The leadership of Republicans in Congress, prompted by Donald Trump, spent Wednesday hanging out to dry those House Republicans who want a September 11th style commission to investigate the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol.
While House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy lobbied hard and watched with fellow caucus leaders at the back of the chamber, however, thirty-five Republicans joined two hundred and seventeen Democrats to pass legislation creating a ten-member commission. The nay votes totaled one hundred and seventy-five, all Republican. The roll call from the Pacific Northwest was as follows:
Voting Aye in favor of the commission: Democratic Representatives Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith, Marilyn Strickland (WA), Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader (OR); Republican Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse (WA), Cliff Bentz (OR), Mike Simpson (ID)
Voting Nay against the commission: Republican Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA), Russ Fulcher (ID), Don Young (AK), Matt Rosendale (MT)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to block the bill in Congress’ upper chamber.
If you missed the so-so movie “Twister,” the gyrations of McConnell provide a substitute. This is the guy, back in the winter, who told the Senate: “There is no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. A mob was assaulting the Capitol in his name.”
As late as Tuesday, McConnell said he was open to voting for the House bill.
On Wednesday, however, McConnell was describing the proposal being voted on across the Capitol as a “slanted and unbalanced proposal for another commission to study the events of January 6th.“
“Another” commission? Do we already have one?
Of course, Mitch added: “The facts have come out and will continue to come out.” He seems to have brought rank-and-file senators with him.
The Senate will likely vote on the House-passed measure next week.
McConnell may be right, for those who would hang colleagues out to dry may end up getting drenched themselves. If the commission plan is blocked in the Senate, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted that a select committee, with subpoena power, will be named and go to work. Delay can carry McConnell and McCarthy only so far. As Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer noted of his GOP counterparts, “They are still caving to Trump and the big lie.”
The commission plan voted by the House tracks closely with the panel created to probe the September 11th, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, described as “the god standard for commissions” by Rep. Bennie Thompson, D‑Miss., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Its ten members would be evenly split between appointees of both parties. The commissioners would need to be out of government, as were September 11th commissioners Slade Gorton of Washington and former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick. The panel would have subpoena powers.
The plan, shaped by Thompson and John Katko, R‑New York – the chairman and ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee – tracks closely with a proposal submitted earlier this spring by thirty House Republicans.
The proposal was endorsed Tuesday by the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus, which consists of biconceptual lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans who actively use both the progressive and conservative value systems in different areas of their political thinking.
The Washington State delegation split along interesting lines.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Trump’s chief enabler in the state, voted No. The two Republicans who voted for impeachment in January, Jamie Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse, were among the thirty-five aye votes. All seven of the state’s Democratic House members voted to create the commission.
“It is appalling that some Congressional Republicans, the former President and others want to deny the realities of what happened on January 6th,” said Rep. Adam Smith, D‑Wash. “In addition, many of these same Republican leaders continue to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election, denying its legitimacy and undermining faith in the electoral process… The commission’s report will provide a full understanding of the facts of January 6th and the influences that led to the assault so we can help ensure it never happens again.”
“When somebody says of something, ‘It’s not politics,’ it’s politics,” the late Sen. Dale Bumpers of Arkansas once quipped. The House Republican leadership apparently made two political calculations. Backing creation of a September 11th style commission would anger Trump and the Republican base.
The commission’s deliberations, while directed to end this year, might spill over to 2022 and impact the midterms. The commission might, in words of Q‑Anon follower Marjorie Taylor Greene, R‑Georgia, make Republicans “look bad.”
Of course, there are larger issues which impact the Republic, mob violence and intimidation plus a President’s attempt to forcibly overturn his decisive election loss. Representative Peter Meijer, R‑Michigan, who backs creating the commission, said late Wednesday: “I am struggling with some of the false rationales and explanations.” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer put it more bluntly in a House floor speech: “It is unfathomable, with any integrity, they could oppose this.”
McCarthy did not speak during floor debate, but left opposition to Marjorie Taylor Greene and intellectually challenged Texas Representative Louie Gohmert.
Trump weighed in on the eve of the House vote, saying of the proposed commission: “It is just more partisan unfairness and unless the murders, riots and fire bombings in Portland, Minneapolis, Seattle, Chicago and New York are also going to be studied, this discussion should be ended immediately.”
He’s expected back out on the hustings before long.
The January 6th insurrection has already resulted in four hundred and fifty arrests, with over one hundred more likely to come. New details are still coming out daily. For instance, Representative Andrew Clyde, R‑Georgia, rhetorically doctored the insurrection last week, saying: “You know, if you didn’t know the TV footage was a video from January the sixth, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.” CNN and MSNBC were airing footage last night showing Clyde helping barricade doors to the House chamber against rampaging “tourists.”
One more factor explains why House GOP Leader McCarthy is quaking in his polished shoes. He had a contentious mid-insurrection phone conversation with Trump, perhaps unsettled at chants of “Hang Pence!” from the president’s supporters. News of the conversation was “outed” earlier this year by our very own Representative Jamie Herrera Beutler. Deposed House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney said last week that McCarthy should be called to testify before investigators, under subpoena if necessary.
Odds are that Schumer won’t get the sixty Senate votes needed to bring the House proposal to a vote on final passage, and Speaker Pelosi will consequently need to go the select committee route. Senator Susan Collins, R‑Maine, a vote for impeachment in January, was back with McConnell, saying she could not support the House’s January 6th commission plan in its present form.
Collins is living proof of a half-century-old joke once told by anti-war Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota (1916–2005): “A liberal Republican is someone, if you are drowning fifty feet offshore, will throw out a thirty-foot-long rope… and say [they] have gone more than halfway.”