- The Washington Times - Friday, May 14, 2021

House members have a deal to set up a bipartisan commission with equal numbers of appointees from each party and with shared subpoena powers to look into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The proposed commission, which must be approved by Congress, is styled after the well-received panel that investigated the 2001 terrorist attacks, and under the terms of the deal announced Friday would issue its report, including recommendations for preventing a future attack, by the end of the year.

Half the 10-member panel would be appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, the two top Democrats on Capitol Hill. The other half would be appointed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, who announced the deal with Rep. John Katko, the ranking Republican, said there’s been a growing realization that the Jan. 6 attack “is of a complexity and national significance” and a national commission is needed.

“Inaction — or just moving on — is simply not an option,” the Mississippi Democrat said. “The creation of this commission is our way of taking responsibility for protecting the U.S. Capitol.”

The idea of a commission has been floating since immediately after the attack, which saw a mob of pro-Trump supporters descend on the building, forcing a stop in the counting of the Electoral College votes that confirmed President Biden’s victory. Both the House and Senate chambers were evacuated, and officers shot and killed one protester trying to bust into the corridor that would give access to the House.

The electoral count was completed later that night

Hundreds of people who entered the Capitol without permission face criminal charges.

The events of Jan. 6 remain heatedly contested.

Many Democrats and some news outlets refer to it as an “insurrection.” Others call it a mob attack or an assault.

Mr. Katko, in his statement Friday, called it an “unacceptable” security breach.

“It was a major breakdown in information sharing and preparedness, much like the shortfalls that existed prior to 9/11,” he said. “Unfortunately the Capitol remains a target for extremists of all ideologies, as we also witnessed during the April 2 attack that took a Capitol Police officer’s life.”

That incident saw a man ram his vehicle into officers guarding a barricade to the Capitol complex, then advance on them with a knife. One officer was killed and another wounded. The driver was shot and killed by officers.

Mr. Katko said the new commission is “about facts, not partisan politics.”

Also Friday, House Democrats announced a new bill to spend $1.9 billion to reimburse National Guard troops that have been deployed to protect the Capitol, to pay for trauma support for Capitol Police who handled the January attack, and to stiffen the complex’s defenses.

Those improvements will be based on recommendations from a task force Mrs. Pelosi had formed for an immediate after-action report.

Mrs. Pelosi’s original vision for the new commission was a more partisan affair, with Democratic appointees outnumbering GOP picks. But late last month she relented, agreeing to an even split with shared powers.

The subpoena power is the most critical of the tools the commission will have, allowing it to compel documents and testimony. Under the rules Mr. Thompson announced Friday, a subpoena can only be issued with agreement of both the Democrat-appointed chair and GOP-appointed vice chair, or by majority vote. That ensures any subpoena will be bipartisan.

Commission members are also supposed to bring experience in law enforcement, civil rights, privacy, intelligence or cybersecurity. Current government officeholders and their employees are banned.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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