House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy comes out against a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot

Donald Trump Kevin McCarthy
President Donald Trump speaks as he joined by House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy in the Rose Garden of the White House on January 4, 2019 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • Republican House leadership has formally come out against a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
  • House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday announced his opposition to the bill, which was negotiated by one of his own members.
  • Democrats agreed to nearly all of the Republicans’ demands about how the commission would operate.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Republican House leadership has formally come out against a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday announced his opposition to the bill that would establish the commission, which was negotiated by Republican Rep. John Katko of New York and House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat.

The GOP leader said he opposed the commission because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “refused to negotiate in good faith on basic parameters.” But Pelosi agreed to nearly all of his demands, including putting an equal number of Republicans and Democrats on the commission and requiring that both parties agree to all of the subpoenas issued.

“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 said in a statement.

Many Republican lawmakers, including McCarthy, have argued that any Jan. 6 commission should also investigate violence associated with last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests. Democrats and some Republicans, including Rep. Liz Cheney, argue that the commission should be narrowly focused on the Capitol riot.

Cheney, who was ousted from leadership by her own party last week, recently said that some of her GOP colleagues oppose the commission because they fear they would be held accountable for their role in the events of Jan. 6.

“There is real concern among a number of members of my own party about a January 6 commission,” Cheney said. “That kind of intense, narrow focus threatens people in my party who may have been playing a role they should not have been playing.”

Katko, who voted to impeach Trump in January for inciting the riot, told reporters on Tuesday that there’s much to investigate about law enforcement’s role in the events.

“More important than anything is, how the hell did this happen? How did we fail to act on the intelligence we know was there?” he said. “How were we not ready at the Capitol and why in God’s name did we put these four Capitol Hill officers in an unwinnable situation?”

McCarthy’s role in promoting the election lies that incited the riot and responding to the events on Jan. 6 would likely be scrutinized by a commission. McCarthy called Trump as the president’s loyalists were storming the Capitol building on Jan. 6 and pleaded with the president to call off the rioters. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Washington Republican, revealed in January that McCarthy told her Trump sided with the rioters on their call.

“Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election then you are,” Trump allegedly told McCarthy, who has refused to confirm or deny Herrera’s claim.

McCarthy didn’t answer reporters’ questions on Tuesday about whether he would be willing to testify before Congress about his conversations with Trump on Jan. 6. A week after the riot, McCarthy delivered a speech on the House floor in which he said Trump “bears responsibility” for the riot and that he should have done more to end the siege. But last month, the GOP leader reversed course, claiming Trump’s response to the riot was sufficient.

Many Republican lawmakers have downplayed the Capitol riot over the last several months as Trump and his allies have continued to lie about the 2020 presidential election, falsely claiming that Biden was not legitimately elected.

McCarthy explained his opposition to the commission during a private GOP meeting on Tuesday morning, during which Katko made his case for supporting the commission. Most House Republicans will likely vote against the commission on Wednesday. The bill likely won’t get the 10 Republican votes it needs to pass the Senate.

Biden announced his support for the commission as designed by Katko and Thompson on Tuesday.

“The Nation deserves such a full and fair accounting to prevent future violence and strengthen the security and resilience of our democratic institutions,” the administration said in a statement.

McCarthy, who has visited Trump in Florida since January and repaired his relationship with the former president, faced immediate backlash from critics, including Democratic lawmakers, for his decision to oppose the commission.

Pelosi told reporters on Tuesday that some Republicans do “not want to find the truth.”

“I am very pleased that we have a bipartisan bill to come to the floor, and it’s 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.