The Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol will be remembered as one of the darkest days in the country’s history, a day when democracy was threatened by its citizens. We cannot erase the events of that day, but we must do everything possible to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
To that end, the U.S. House voted to create an independent commission to review exactly what happened and to make recommendations for securing the Capitol and preventing another such occurrence. The measure faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where there is some Republican opposition.
Why this opposition?
The American people deserve a complete and full investigation into the Jan. 6 events, including the seeming lack of preparedness on the part of Capitol police, the slow response in deploying the National Guard and the disregard of warnings that there could be trouble on that fateful day.
Five people died; more than 140 were injured; Capitol offices were ransacked and looted. There were real threats to the safety and security of members of Congress and the vice president.
A congressional commission is warranted so that protocols are established and in place for the future.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is opposed to creating a commission even though he took to the Senate floor in January to denounce the rioters as members of a “failed insurrection.” He claims the House bill supporting a commission is partisan in nature, but the makeup of the 10-member group would be bipartisan — five Democrats and five Republicans.
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Other opponents of the commission have speculated that such an investigation could undermine the criminal prosecutions of those charged in the riot. But there’s nothing to prevent criminal proceedings from going forward at the same time an investigation by the commission is underway.
What’s really driving the opposition to the commission seems to be pushback from former President Donald Trump. Though singled out by many — including some members of his own party — as a provocateur of the Jan. 6 events, other Republicans are rushing to take up his opposition to a commission whose findings could reflect badly on the former president.
One Trump supporter, U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, of Georgia, even offered the absurd description of the insurrection as little more than “a normal tourist visit” by hundreds of people. It was anything but.
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, in heated comments just before the vote to create the commission, summed it up best:
“We have people scaling the Capitol, hitting the Capitol Police with lead pipes across the head, and we can’t get bipartisanship? What else has to happen in this country?”