House panel proposes bipartisan Capitol riot commission to study Jan. 6 domestic terrorism

WASHINGTON – Top members of the House Homeland Security Committee announced Friday they reached bipartisan agreement to create a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 domestic terrorism attack on the Capitol.

Lawmakers had been at loggerheads over creating a commission modeled on the one that reviewed the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Republicans had sought a broader review to include racial justice protests last year, but Democrats wanted to focus on Jan. 6, when a riot temporarily halted the counting of Electoral College votes.

The committee chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and the top Republican, Rep. John Katko of New York, agreed on legislation to create the commission. The legislation could be voted on as soon as next week, the lawmakers said.

“There has been a growing consensus that the January 6th attack is of a complexity and national significance that we need an independent commission to investigate,” Thompson said. “Inaction – or just moving on – is simply not an option.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said it was imperative to study the circumstances of the attack that left five dead and 140 police officers injured.

“On Jan. 6, one of the darkest days in our history, our temple of democracy was attacked by insurrectionists,” Pelosi said. “The gleeful desecration of our Capitol resulted in multiple deaths, physical harm to over 140 members of law enforcement and terror and trauma among staff, support workers and members.”

Supporters loyal to President Donald Trump clash with authorities before successfully breaching the Capitol building during a riot on the grounds, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. A number of lawmakers and then the mob of protesters tried to overturn America's presidential election, undercutting the nation's democracy by attempting to keep Democrat Joe Biden from replacing Trump in the White House. (Photo: John Minchillo, AP)

The full House and Senate must still consider the compromise.

If approved, the 10-member commission:

• Would study the facts and circumstances surrounding the Jan. 6 attack and what provoked it.

• Would be appointed with five members from Democrats and five from Republicans. Commissioners are expected to have expertise in law enforcement, civil rights and intelligence.

• Could issue subpoenas to secure information, with approval required by a majority of commission members or by agreement between the Democratic chairman and Republican vice chairman.

• Produce a final report by Dec. 31.

“The creation of this commission is our way of taking responsibility for protecting the U.S. Capitol,” Thompson said.

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