Democratic Lawmaker Calls on Biden to Create Jan. 6 Commission After GOP Blocks Bill

May 30, 2021 Updated: May 30, 2021

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), chairman of the House Government Operations subcommittee, has urged President Joe Biden to create an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol.

The request comes one day after Senate Republicans blocked a Democrat-led measure that sought to create such a commission to examine the breach. Senators voted 54–35 on the House-approved bill, falling short of the 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster.

“In light of the GOP’s cowardly filibuster of a bipartisan January 6th Commission, I urge President Biden to form and appoint a Presidential Commission to fully investigate the insurrection at the United States Capitol, to identify the individuals and organizations who plotted or were involved in those violent acts, and to make recommendations to prevent such an attack from ever recurring,” Connolly wrote in a statement on May 29.

While six Republicans joined Democrats to vote to approve the bill, some Senate Republicans have suggested that the commission is merely a partisan effort to again investigate former President Donald Trump. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had urged his caucus to vote against the commission.

“I do not believe the extraneous ‘commission’ that Democratic leaders want would uncover crucial new facts or promote healing. Frankly, I do not believe it is even designed to,” the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor.

“That’s why the speaker’s first draft began with a laughably rigged and partisan starting point and why the current language would still lock in significant unfairness under the hood.”

He and other senators have also said that a number of investigations of the Jan. 6 incident are already underway, including by several Senate committees.

“I will continue to support the real serious work of the criminal justice system and our own Senate committees, and urge my colleagues to oppose this extraneous layer when the time comes for the Senate to vote,” McConnell said.

Senate Democrats have argued that a commission is necessary to safeguard democracy, while accusing Republicans of “sweeping” the incident “under the rug.”

“We have to get it passed. Each member of the Senate is going to have to stand up and decide: Are you on the side of truth and accountability or are you on the side of Donald Trump and the big lie?” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said earlier in the week.

The bill, known as HR 3233, is modeled after the investigation into the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and was approved by the House, with 35 Republicans crossing the aisle to support the measure.

The proposed measure would create in the legislative branch an independent, 10-member commission to investigate “relevant facts and circumstances relating to the attack on the Capitol,” and “evaluate the causes of and the lessons learned from this attack.”

Biden has previously signaled that he supports the creation of the panel, saying on May 27 that he “can’t imagine” why the GOP would reject it.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

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