House passes bill creating commission to investigate the January 6th attack

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Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to form a bipartisan, independent Commission to investigate the January 6 domestic terrorism attack on the United States Capitol and recommend changes to further protect the Capitol.

The legislation, entitled the National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex Act (H.R. 3233), was sponsored by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi and Ranking Member John Katko, a Republican Congressman from New York. It passed with a vote of 252 to 175 with 35 Republicans voting for the legislation, including Mississippi Congressman Michael Guest, who serves on the House Homeland Security Committee.

Congressman Steven Palazzo and Congressman Trent Kelly voted against the measure.

Click here to read the legislation.

“Today the House came together – in bipartisan patriotism – to pass legislation that gets at the very heart of the integrity of our democracy,” said Chairman Thompson. “The January 6 domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol was one of the darkest days in our country’s history. We owe it to the American people – and all who risk their lives to protect the Capitol everyday – to get to the bottom of what happened so we can make sure it is not allowed to happen again.

“It has been clear we need an independent commission of experts to give us an unvarnished view of the events that day, examine why our systems failed, and develop recommendations for reforms to address security gaps. I’m glad the House took the first move to do just that today. Despite all the last-minute bluster from Republican leadership, we ended up with a strong vote with dozens of Republicans joining us.

 “I thank my colleagues – including many Republican members – who stood up for the truth and our democracy today and voted for this bill. I also thank Ranking Member Katko for helping write this bill with me through hours of negotiations these past months.

“Now it is up to the Senate to step up and take action. We must stand together in our joint responsibility to defend our democracy and protect the Capitol. Inaction is simply not an option.”

Commission details:

  • The Commission will be charged with studying the facts and circumstances surrounding the January 6th attack on the Capitol as well as the influencing factors that may have provoked the attack on our democracy.
  • Like the 9/11 Commission, the measure establishes a 10-person bipartisan commission with five commissioners, including the Chair, appointed by the Speaker of the House and Majority Leader of the Senate and five commissioners, including the Vice Chair, appointed by the Minority Leaders of the House and Senate. Staff hiring also is also modeled off the 9/11 Commission.
  • Commissioners must have significant expertise in the areas of law enforcement, civil rights, civil liberties, privacy, intelligence, and cybersecurity. Current government officers or employees are prohibited from appointment.
  • Like the 9/11 Commission, the Commission will be granted authority to issue subpoenas to secure information to carry out its investigation but requires agreement between the Chair and the Vice Chair or a vote by a majority of Commission members.
  • The Commission will be required to issue a final report with findings regarding the facts and causes of the attack, along with recommendations to prevent future attacks on our democratic institutions, by December 31, 2021.

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