Updated May 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

McCarthy comes out against bipartisan deal on Jan. 6 commission

Kevin McCarthy

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will oppose a bipartisan deal announced last week that would form a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, his office announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: McCarthy's opposition to the deal, which was negotiated by the top Republican and Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, underscores the internal divisions that continue to plague the GOP in the wake of Jan. 6.

  • The formation of a bipartisan Jan. 6 commission had been delayed for months, after some Republicans insisted that the scope of the investigation be expanded to include violence by far-left protesters last summer.
  • McCarthy echoed that sentiment in a statement on Tuesday, and argued that the commission would be "duplicative and potentially counterproductive" due to other investigations related to Jan. 6 being carried out by Congress and the federal government.

Behind the scenes: House Republicans were unsure about how to address the commission, and debated over the weekend what approach to take.

  • The feeling among most members is that everyone is nervous about how it could be weaponized to subpoena members.
  • There are also concerns about how it might alienate members of the GOP base, as well as former President Trump — who was impeached by the House for inciting the riot.

What they're saying: "While the Speaker has wasted time playing political games, numerous Congressional and intergovernmental agency efforts have picked up the slack," McCarthy said in a statement, accusing Nancy Pelosi of delaying negotiations.

  • He pointed to bipartisan investigations by the Senate Homeland Security Committee, the Senate Rules Committee, and a security review by the Office of the Architect of the Capitol — as well as the sweeping criminal investigation being carried out by the Justice Department.
  • McCarthy added that "the renewed focus by Democrats to now stand up an additional commission ignores the political violence that has struck American cities, a Republican Congressional baseball practice, and, most recently, the deadly attack on Capitol Police on April 2, 2021."
  • “Given the political misdirections that have marred this process, given the now duplicative and potentially counterproductive nature of this effort, and given the Speaker’s shortsighted scope that does not examine interrelated forms of political violence in America, I cannot support this legislation," he concluded.

The other side: Asked to respond to McCarthy's opposition on Monday, Pelosi said, "I'm very pleased that we have a bipartisan bill to come to the floor, and it’s disappointing, but not surprising, the cowardice on the part of some on the Republican side."

The big picture: The legislation to stand up the commission is still likely to pass the House, but it could face major hurdles in reaching the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate.

  • President Biden has endorsed the bill, which is likely to get a House vote on Wednesday.

Go deeper: Details of the proposed Jan. 6 commission

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