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House approves panel to investigate Jan. 6 Capitol attack

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks Wednesday at a news conference on the Democrats' push for a bipartisan 9/11-style commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Pool Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks Wednesday at a news conference on the Democrats' push for a bipartisan 9/11-style commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Pool Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI | License Photo

May 19 (UPI) -- The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted in favor of forming an investigative panel to examine the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol.

The measure passed by a vote of 252-175, with 35 Republicans joining Democrats in approving an independent probe into the deadly siege by supporters of former President Donald Trump as Congress worked to certify President Joe Biden's election win.

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"An independent, bipartisan commission will protect against politicization and enable a review that focuses solely on the facts and circumstances surrounding the security breach at the Capitol as well as other instances of relevant violence," said New York Rep. John Katko, the top Republican on the House homeland security committee, who worked on a compromise with the committee's top Democrat, Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, last week.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced Wednesday's vote after Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he opposes forming such a commission, calling the Democratic proposal "slanted" and "unbalanced."

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If approved by both chambers, the commission would be made up of five Republicans and five Democrats. It would be chaired by a Democrat and vice-chaired by a Republican.

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"After careful consideration, I've made the decision to oppose the House Democrats' slanted and unbalanced proposal for another commission to study the events of Jan. 6," McConnell said.

After passing the House, the bill will need support from at least 10 Republicans in the Senate to be sent to President Joe Biden. Otherwise, Democrats may need to make some revisions to the proposal.

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McConnell's opposition follows a similar rejection from House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday.

McCarthy opposes the panel because it focuses only on the January Capitol attack, which was perpetrated by radical supporters of Trump who were trying to disrupt Congress' counting of Electoral College votes that put Biden in office.

The California Republican said any commission should be expanded to investigate other violence, such as the 2017 shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice that seriously wounded Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

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Pelosi called McCarthy's opposition "cowardice."

"[It is] disappointing but not surprising that the cowardice on the part of some on the Republican side not to want to find the truth," she said Tuesday.

In a news conference Wednesday, she said Democrats had yielded on several issues Republicans had with the legislation, including ditching presidential appointments to the commission and subpoena power.

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"We wouldn't budge on the purpose," Pelosi said, "to examine what happened on Jan. 6."

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told reporters at Wednesday's news conference that the House vote would take place in the afternoon.

"Clearly it says that Democrats and Republicans can do good work together on items of importance," he said. "This Capitol is our citadel of democracy. If the public is unsafe here, then God forbid who we are as a nation."

Siege aftermath: damage to historic U.S. Capitol

Capitol Hill police salute the passing of the funeral hearse on Sunday for slain Officer Brian Sicknick, who died in the rioting at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

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