In January, some of the 175 Republicans
who voted against forming an independent commission
to investigate the Capitol riot
supported the formation of a commission.
In the days following the Jan. 6 attack
, 30 Republicans co-sponsored a commission bill introduced by Rep. Rodney Davis
(R-Ill.). On Wednesday, even more Republicans backed the idea. Davis was one of the 35 Republicans who defied party leaders and voted in favor of the commission.
After all, it is common for Congress
to create an advisory commission in the aftermath of a disaster or to assist with a complex policy problem; in recent decades, Congress has created dozens upon dozens of commissions.
However, 16 of the Republicans who co-sponsored the Davis bill in January voted against the newer commission bill, which was written by House
Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and the committee's top Republican, Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.).
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) had such a change of heart that he urged his colleagues to vote against the commission bill during a Republican Study Committee meeting before the vote on Wednesday. Banks refused to speak to Stardia about the commission.
The Davis bill, introduced in January, envisioned a commission similar to the Thompson-Katko bill, with five expert members appointed by each party, the same power to issue subpoenas, and a final report with “recommendations for corrective measures.” Both bills are modeled after the legislation that established the 9/11 commission.
Rep. Ralph Norman
(R-SC), who co-sponsored the Davis bill but voted against the Thompson-Katko bill, insisted the two bills are not the same.
“It’s a completely different situation,” Norman explained to Stardia, adding that “their intent is simply to keep the spotlight on Trump, which is wrong.”
"It's two different bills, two different commissions, two different setups," he explained.
There are some minor differences between the bills. The one Noman supported would give the commission 18 months to write its report, whereas the one that passed the House would set a deadline of Dec. 31, 2021. However, the shorter deadline is likely to benefit Republicans because it means a major commission report would not be released right before the midterm elections
The House-passed bill prohibits current officeholders from serving on the panel, but, unlike the 9/11 commission model, the Republican bill allows for the appointment of two members of Congress, giving Republicans a chance to sabotage the process.
Before Thompson and Katko announced their agreement last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
(D-Calif.) had her own commission proposal, which included more Democratic than Republican appointees and unilateral subpoena powers.
Even after she agreed to a party split, Republican leaders complained that the commission would not look into Black Lives Matter
protests that had nothing to do with the Capitol attack.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
(R-Ky.) complained this week that a commission would duplicate ongoing congressional and criminal investigations, despite the fact that the 9/11 commission did the same.
The real reason most Republicans oppose a special investigation, according to Norman, is that the events of Jan. 6 reflect poorly on the Republican Party
because its leader, Donald Trump
, incited the attack on the Capitol with lies about the election, and most Republicans joined him in telling those lies.