|Long title||An Act to establish the National Commission to Investigate the January 6 riot on the United States Capitol Complex, and for other purposes|
|Enacted by||the 117th United States Congress|
|Number of co-sponsors||1|
|2021 United States|
|Timeline of events|
The National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex, known colloquially as the January 6 commission, was a proposed commission that would have investigated the 2021 United States Capitol attack. It was proposed on February 15 by Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, who announced that she planned to create a "9/11-type commission". The proposal was negotiated by Republican John Katko, and would have consisted of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. A bill forming the commission passed the House of Representatives on May 19, with all Democrats and 35 Republicans voting in support of it. However, it was blocked by Senate Republicans on May 28, with 54 Senators voting in favor and 35 voting against, failing to clear the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster.
Further information: 2021 United States Capitol attack
On January 6, 2021, supporters of Donald Trump entered the United States Capitol in Washington D.C., with the demand of a recount of the results of the 2020 US presidential election, in which Trump lost to Joe Biden. At the time of the attack, the US Congress was finalizing certifying Biden's victory as the 46th president of the United States. By the time the riot was over, four people had died, and more than 14 people were injured. Vandalism, destruction of property, theft and many other acts of violence were performed in the Capitol by the rioters.
A few days after the January 6 attack on the Capitol, the US House of Representatives filed one article of impeachment against Donald Trump, "incitement of insurrection". At the Senate impeachment trial on February 13, Trump was acquitted, the required two-thirds majority not being met.
Further information: Aftermath of the 2021 United States Capitol attack
Senator Lindsey Graham said that "[they] need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again, and [he] want[s] to make sure that the Capitol footprint can be better defended next time." Senator Chris Coons agreed with this statement.
On February 15, 2021, Nancy Pelosi announced, in a letter to Democrats in the House of Representatives, she planned to create a "9/11-type commission" to investigate the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. It would have contained no members of Congress and been an "outside commission" In the letter, she said that, "... [their] next step will be to establish an outside, independent 9/11-type commission to investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex … and relating to the interference with the peaceful transfer of power, including facts and causes relating to the preparedness and response of the United States Capitol Police and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement in the National Capitol Region."
The priorities would have been to "investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021 domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex… and relating to the interference with the peaceful transfer of power, including facts and causes relating to the preparedness and response of the United States Capitol Police and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement in the National Capitol Region."
Under the provisions of the bill, the commission would have been composed of ten members, outside of the federal government, appointed by congressional leaders. The four party leaders in Congress (Nancy Pelosi, Kevin McCarthy, Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell) would have each appointed two members, with Democratic leaders jointly appointing the chair and the Republican leaders jointly appointing the vice-chair. This would have allowed Democrats and Republicans to appoint equal number of members.
The commissioners would have been tasked with filing a report by the end of 2021, and ending 60 days after that.
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Bennie Thompson, and its Republican ranking member, John Katko, announced on May 14 that they had reached an agreement on the creation of the panel. Under the deal, the Commission would have been modeled after the 9/11 Commission; ten members, half chosen by Democrats (including the chair) and half chosen by Republicans (including the vice chair). Subpoenas could be issued upon approval of both the chair and vice-chair, and the Commission would have produced a final report by the end of the year. Despite the deal, the leader of the House Republicans, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, opposed the bipartisan commission, coming out against its formation after the right-wing House Freedom Caucus and Trump opposed it.
The House voted on a bill forming the commission, and it passed the House of Representatives on May 19. Every Democrat, and 35 Republicans, supported it; other Republicans opposed.
Schumer promised that the House bill will receive a vote in the Senate, criticizing the minority leaders for bucking bipartisan negotiations.
It was ultimately blocked by Senate Republicans on May 28, with a vote of 54–35, short of the 60 needed to clear the filibuster. All Democrats (except for two who did not vote) voted for the commission, along with Republicans Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ben Sasse (R-NE). All other Republicans (except for nine who did not vote) voted against it.
On June 8, the Senate released the results of its investigation of the riot. On June 24, Pelosi announced that the House would create a committee to investigate the riot.
Members of the Problem Solvers Caucus expressed support for the commission. Republicans who voted to impeach Trump also expressed their support, such as Liz Cheney, Anthony Gonzalez, and Adam Kinzinger.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy had earlier advocated for congressional action to form such a commission on January 13, stating that "[he thought] a fact-finding commission ... would be prudent," and then was offered such a commission that had included three conditions he requested. However, McCarthy announced on May 19 that he opposed the formation of a commission to investigate the attack. He accused Pelosi of negotiating in bad faith, and stated that the scope of the legislation needed to examine other instances of political violence. This was perceived as undercutting the agreement the House Homeland Security chairman Bennie Thompson made with the vice chairman John Katko.
On May 12 during a House Oversight Committee hearing, Arizona Representative Paul Gosar and Georgia Representative Jody Hice asserted those who attacked the Capitol were "peaceful patriots". Gosar said one individual killed during the event, Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, was "executed". Hice said it was "Trump supporters who lost their lives that day, not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others." At the same hearing, Georgia representative Andrew Clyde downplayed the events saying "there was an undisciplined mob" but "to call it an insurrection in my opinion is a bold-faced lie." Because footage "showed people in an orderly fashion in between the stanchions and ropes taking pictures," Clyde said, "If you didn't know the footage was from January 6, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit."
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson met with Gladys Sicknick and Sandra Garza, mother and longtime girlfriend, respectively, of deceased Capitol officer Brian Sicknick, prior to his vote. Johnson had previously voiced opposition to the bill, and said he "respectfully disagree[d]" with the two following the meeting.