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Kevin McCarthy won’t support January 6 commission and sides with Republicans downplaying the insurrection


McCarthy’s opposition to the bipartisan agreement for an independent commission comes ahead of a House vote this week to create the panel modeled after the 9/11 Commission, which would be tasked with investigating the circumstances behind supporters of then-President Donald Trump breaching the Capitol to try to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College vote for President Joe Biden.
The bipartisan agreement to establish the January 6 commission was reached last week by House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson and the panel’s top Republican, Rep. John Katko of New York, who was one of the 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump in the wake of the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

But McCarthy and other top Republicans did not endorse the agreement Katko had reached, which would give McCarthy much of what he’d sought from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, including an even number of Democrats and Republicans and sign-off from both sides for subpoenas.

McCarthy’s opposition to the agreement raises questions about the GOP leader’s role in the events at the Capitol on January 6, as he had a heated phone conversation with Trump as the insurrection was unfolding.

Rep. Liz Cheney, the ousted GOP conference chair, said on Sunday that McCarthy should provide information to the commission if it is created. Katko on Monday said it would be up to the commission to decide whether to subpoena McCarthy, noting that both sides would have to sign off.
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In a statement explaining his opposition, McCarthy accused Pelosi of failing to negotiate in good faith, while saying that the scope of the proposed legislation needed to also look at other episodes of political violence beyond January 6.

“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,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy and other Republicans have argued that any commission should also look at violence involving Antifa and riots that occurred during protests of police brutality last year. Democrats charge that Republicans are simply trying to obfuscate Trump’s role lying about the election being stolen in the lead-up to January 6 attack.

McCarthy detailed his opposition to the commission during a closed-door GOP meeting Tuesday morning, according to multiple sources who heard his remarks. His comments hewed closely to his written statement.

House GOP leaders have previously said they would not urge their conference to vote a certain way on the commission bill. But McCarthy’s opposition will sway a wide swath of his conference to vote no when the House votes on Wednesday.

The Republican opposition to the commission comes as several House Republicans have sought to downplay or completely write off the events of January 6. At a hearing last week, one House Republican complained that the Justice Department was charging those who participated in the insurrection and another Republican lawmaker said the deadly riot looked like normal tourists in the Capitol.

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While GOP opposition won’t sink the measure in the House, it could jeopardize it when it goes to the Senate, where 60 votes would be needed, meaning at least 10 Republicans would have to support it with all 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has yet to weigh in on the deal reached in the House, though he has previously expressed opposition to Pelosi’s commission proposal. But Senate Minority Whip John Thune predicted Monday that the Senate would pass a bill to establish commission probing the January 6 attack “in some form,” and he seemed content on focusing mainly on the events that transpired at the Capitol, splitting with other GOP leaders who want the investigation to dig into left-wing extremism as well.

Pelosi first proposed an independent, 9/11-style commission to investigate the circumstances surrounding the January 6 attack, but negotiations for a bipartisan agreement were bogged down over the makeup of the panel and what it should be tasked with investigating.

Pelosi agreed to an even split of Democrats and Republicans appointed to the commission and for bipartisan subpoena power, but the scope of the commission remained the lasting sticking point, until Thompson and Katko reached their agreement last week.

Katko sought to downplay McCarthy’s resistance on Monday. The New York Republican argued that the deal he struck would give the commission the option to look at violence involving Antifa and Black Lives Matter protests.

“It’s subject to interpretation by the commission,” Katko said when asked if the commission could look into those issues. He added that while the bill has “got some flexibility,” the probe has to be “in relation to January 6.”

This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.

CNN’s Manu Raju, Ryan Nobles and Annie Grayer contributed to this report.



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