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Future of Jan. 6 commission unclear as US Senate considers bill


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — While the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation last week creating a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the likelihood of the Senate passing the resolution is uncertain.

The House voted 252-175 last Wednesday to form a commission responsible for investigating the riot led by Donald Trump supporters. Four people died during the violence, and Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died the following day after collapsing during the insurrection. Two other officers died by suicide.

House Resolution 3233 would allow commissioners to investigate the incident and issue recommendations on preparations and responses to violence and domestic terrorism. The commission would be allowed to hold public hearings, request evidence and issue subpoenas as part of its work.

The leading Democrat and Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee worked on the bill.

Sixty senators would have to vote for the measure for it to pass; the Senate is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, meaning 10 Republicans need to support the legislation if there is unanimous Democratic support. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said before the House’s vote he would oppose the legislation, and Republican senators followed.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., told reporters last week she was still reviewing the proposal.

“I think that it needs to be styled as a 9/11 commission if it goes forward, and it needs to have the politics out,” she said.

Capito said she wants to know more information about the commission’s formation and the representation of the proposed body.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is supporting the commission, telling MetroNews such body is necessary to prevent another insurrection.

“I never thought I could see what happened on January 6th happen here in America,” he said in a statement. “A bipartisan commission would further investigate the events of that day so we can ensure something like that never happens again. I urge every one of my Senate colleagues to support the bipartisan commission as well.”

Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., was one of 35 House Republicans who voted for the legislation last week; he said a bipartisan investigation would help lawmakers understand what happened in January and the contributing factors.

“We were faced with an up or down vote, with no ability to amend it. Hopefully, this proposal will be considered in the Senate with the ability to offer amendments to improve it. If the commission activities become too partisan, the Republican members could just walk away or not sign the final report,” he added. “Congress has always investigated major events, including 9/11 and Benghazi in recent years. January 6 should be no different.”

Reps. Alex Mooney and Carol Miller were among the 175 Republicans who voted against the legislation.

“Our law enforcement authorities and government agencies are currently leading investigations to provide the necessary oversight to ensure that justice is served,” Miller told MetroNews.

“Once that is completed from a law enforcement and criminal justice perspective, we can explore options to ensure the events of January 6th and other violent criminal actions never happen again.”

Trump had called on Republicans to oppose the commission, calling it a “Democrat trap” before the vote.

“Sometimes there are consequences to being ineffective and weak. The voters understand!” he noted Thursday regarding the 35 House Republicans.

Trump had pushed false claims of election fraud leading up to the insurrection. Multiple courts rejected challenges to the election, and election officials refuted claims of inappropriate actions.

The January attack halted Congress’ efforts to certify the presidential election results, and some Republican lawmakers remained opposed to verifying the results of battleground states once business resumed. Mooney and Miller backed a challenge to Pennsylvania’s election results, and Mooney supported an objection to Arizona’s results.

More than 400 people face charges for their alleged roles in the insurrection, including former West Virginia Delegate Derrick Evans, former Parkersburg City Councilmember Eric Barber and Morgantown sandwich shop operator George Tanios.