Kevin McCarthy comes out against bill to create commission to study Jan. 6 Capitol riot

WASHINGTON – House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy opposed legislation Tuesday that would create a bipartisan commission to study the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, which some lawmakers have suggested could subpoena him as a witness.

The leaders of the Homeland Security Committee – Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Rep. John Katko of New York, the top Republican on the panel – unveiled the legislation Friday to create a 10-member commission that would issue a report by Dec. 31.

The House was expected to vote on the legislation Wednesday. The Senate must still consider it. The Biden administration supported the bill.

“The Nation deserves such a full and fair accounting to prevent future violence and strengthen the security and resilience of our democratic institutions,” the White House said in a statement.

Democrats called the effort more urgent last week after several Republicans questioned the severity of the attack that left five dead and 140 police officers injured. Rioters temporarily halted the counting of Electoral College votes that confirmed President Joe Biden’s victory against former President Donald Trump.

Why McCarthy opposes a Jan. 6 commission

But McCarthy, of California, opposed the bill creating a commission and criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for dragging her feet in negotiations. He said that numerous committees are reviewing the event and that the Architect of the Capitol, which oversees the building and grounds, was allocated $10 million to remedy security vulnerabilities.

“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.

Rep. Liz Cheney and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy disagreed when asked if Trump should speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

McCarthy said the commission should also study the political violence from racial justice protests nationwide last summer, the attack on a Republican baseball practice and the vehicle attack that killed a Capitol Police officer April 2.

“The presence of this political violence in American society cannot be tolerated, and it cannot be overlooked,” said McCarthy, who called the omission “deeply concerning.”

Pelosi accused Republicans of cowardice and said she was pleased to have bipartisan legislation to create a commission.

“It’s disappointing but not surprising that the cowardice on the part of some on the Republican side not to want to find the truth,” Pelosi told reporters Tuesday.

The prospects for approval in the evenly divided Senate are uncertain. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said it was unfortunate that the commission had become political but said the review shouldn’t be restricted to Jan. 6.

“I think we need to do something to identify the problems,” Cornyn said. “Shame on us if we can’t find a way to address it.”

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said that the commission should focus on the events of Jan. 6 but that other investigations could be set up for subjects “of a different nature.”

“This was an attack on the constitutional transfer of power in a peaceful manner, and an attack on the symbol of democracy around the world,” Romney said. “If they want to look at other things, why perhaps they can do that another way. But the key thing that needs to be associated with this effort would be the attack on this building.”

McCarthy could face a subpoena

Because McCarthy spoke with Trump during the riot, he is expected to be called as a witness if a commission is created. Trump was impeached after he was accused of inciting the violence but was acquitted in the Senate.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that he supported creation of the commission with five members appointed by Democrats and five by Republicans. Subpoenas would be approved by a majority vote or by the top Democrat and Republican appointees.

“I would suspect that Kevin will be subpoenaed,” Upton said. “He will be asked to give his rendition of what happened, as will a number of members of Congress that were there, whether they were barricading the doors inside the chamber.”

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who was ousted over her House leadership position Wednesday because of her opposition to Trump, also told ABC’s “This Week” on Friday that McCarthy would be subpoenaed.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he were subpoenaed,” Cheney said.

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