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US House approves Capitol attack probe

May 20, 2021

The proposal to investigate the pro-Donald Trump protesters' attack on the Capitol now goes to the divided Senate.

Lawmakers at the House Chamber of the Capitol in Washington.
All 10 House Republicans who voted in January to impeach Trump supported the proposalImage: Joshua Roberts/REUTERS

The US House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill to form a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

A significant number of Republican lawmakers, 35 out of 211, voted for the probe, defying party leaders' attempts to block the proposal.

The bill, approved in the House by 252-175, now goes to the Senate, where its future is unclear.

What is the proposal?

The bill would establish a 10-member panel commission — with five members appointed by each party —  to investigate the attack on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

"This commission is built to work, and it will be depoliticized, and it will get the results we need," House Republican John Katko, who worked with Democrats to craft a deal on the commission, told his colleagues on the floor.

"I urge all of you in the body, all of you on both sides... to set aside politics just this once — just this once."

The commission is set to be similar to a high-profile 2002 panel that probed the September 11 attacks on the US.

What is next for the bill?

The Senate now has the power to either approve or drop the proposal.

The chamber is divided 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris typically having the power to break a tie. But at least 10 Republicans would have to join Democrats for the measure to become law.

The Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell had initially blamed Trump for inciting the attack on the Capitol, which was breached by his supporters seeking to block certification of the election won by Joe Biden. 

But by Wednesday, McConnell has changed his mind.

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

McConnell pointed to ongoing law enforcement investigations that have already resulted in more than 400 arrests, adding that a new panel might cause unnecessary overlap.

"It sounds like [Republicans] are afraid of the truth, and that's most unfortunate," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters.

fb/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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