House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced Tuesday that he opposes a bipartisan agreement on a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that was announced on Friday, as other Republicans came out against the deal as well.
The agreement, hammered out by Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and ranking member John Katko, R-N.Y., met one Republican demand that it include equal representation from both parties. But it failed to meet another that some Republicans expressed – that it would also investigate last summer’s riots that plagued American cities and other left-wing violence.
That’s why McCarthy, R-Calif., said Monday he cannot support the agreement.
“The renewed focus by Democrats to now stand up an additional commission ignores the political violence that has struck American cities, a Republican congressional baseball practice, and, most recently, the deadly attack on Capitol Police on April 2, 2021,” McCarthy said in a statement. “The presence of this political violence in American society cannot be tolerated and it cannot be overlooked. I have communicated this to our Democrat colleagues for months and its omission is deeply concerning.”
In this April 22, 2021, file photo, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., speaks during his weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington. McCarthy on Tuesday said he opposes a bipartisan agreement for a Jan. 6 commission. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File) (AP)
McCarthy added: “Given the political misdirections that have marred this process, given the now duplicative and potentially counterproductive nature of this effort, and given the speaker’s shortsighted scope that does not examine interrelated forms of political violence in America, I cannot support this legislation.”
McCarthy’s opposition to the legislation is notable given that he himself deputized Katko to negotiate the bill on behalf of Republicans. It could indicate a potentially partisan vote on the commission in the House, which would kneecap its legitimacy from the beginning.
McCarthy’s opposition is looming over a House Rules Committee meeting on the legislation Tuesday.
“I still have serious concerns about this legislation. First and foremost, I’m concerned about the scope of the commission,” ranking member Tom Cole, R-Okla., said.
“The events of Jan. 6 did not emerge in a vacuum. Instead, that even is part of a broader wave of violence that has accompanied increasing coarsening of politics over the last several years, and worsening since the COVID-19 pandemic,” he continued. “Given that many events are inextricably linked, it makes sense to grant… capability to look more broadly at the political violence in this country, including widespread violence of last summer and previous attempts to attack members of this body.”
Rules Committee Chair Jim McGovern, D-Mass., meanwhile, said a commission needs “to follow the facts and to act to not only protect the Capitol and those that walk its halls but our very democracy.”
Rep. John Katko, a Republican from New York, speaks during a House Homeland Security Committee security hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. An agreement that Katko came to with Democrats on a Jan. 6 commission was slammed Tuesday by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who’d given Katko the authority to negotiate a deal on behalf of Republicans. Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Getty Images)
McGovern added that he is “stunned” by “the statement by the minority leader which I find alarming given all we’ve been through and given the bipartisan nature of the negotiations between Mr. Thompson and Mr. Katko.”
“I have to tell you, I’m looking at the minority leader’s statement and I’m pissed, to be honest with you,” McGovern added later. “Because I’m also looking at the letters that he sent to the speaker throughout this process expressing concern over provisions that he wanted addressed… Both Mr. Thompson and Mr. Katko appear to have addressed every one of his concerns.”
“If there’s anybody in this chamber who doesn’t believe it’s important to get to the truth about what happened on the sixth, or who wants to make believe that what happened on the sixth didn’t happen on the sixth, like a typical tourist day on the Capitol, they are not fit to serve in this chamber,” McGovern added, raising his voice. “It is pathetic.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also slammed McCarthy, saying he apparently does not want to find the truth.
Katko on Friday defended the agreement he came to with Thompson, saying it removed politics from the equation. The commission, according to the Homeland Security Committee, would “be charged with studying the facts and circumstances surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol as well as the influencing factors that may have provoked the attack on our democracy.”
“An independent, bipartisan commission will remove politicization of the conversation and focus solely on the facts and circumstances surrounding the security breach at the Capitol as well as other instances of violence relevant to such a review,” Katko said.
Another bill, for supplemental funding for Capitol security, also appears to be falling victim to partisan bickering.
Cole said that on the security funding, “Democrats walked away from a Republican counteroffer, choosing instead to go it alone with the partisan bill before us today.”
Appropriations Committee ranking member Kay Granger, R-Texas, told the Rules Committee that “bipartisan negotiations… stalled last week” and Democrats “chose to forge ahead” more concerned with “making headlines instead of headway.”
Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., meanwhile has said the bill is aimed at narrowly addressing Capitol security matters in good faith, with no unrelated riders.
Violent protesters, loyal to former President Donald Trump, storm the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) (AP)
The final passage of legislation for a Jan. 6 commission likely does not come down to McCarthy but rather Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. McConnell has been a harsh critic of the former president – unlike McCarthy – but amid debate over a commission earlier this year he said the committee should look at more than just the Jan. 6 attack and focus on other political violence, too.
McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News on Tuesday morning.
On Friday, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said of the Katko-Thompson agreement, “I think that they’re going to have to broaden the inquiries that they’re making in order to get 60 votes.”
Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Kelly Phares and Jason Donner contributed to this report.