On January 6, 2021 there was a crowd of Trump supporters who went to hear the president speak about the election being “stolen”. He then urged these followers to march on the Capitol and to stop Congress from certifying the election results. Some of the protestors were peaceful, but many were not. They confronted the police and took over the building. Some shouted “Hang Mike Pence” and took possession of many congressional offices. (Many of us witnessed these events on television as networks, left and right, broadcast these actions live before our eyes) After several hours, control was restored. Later that night, Congress came back into session and certified the election victory of Joe Biden.
Most senators and representatives, including the top two ranking Republicans, were rightfully angered at Trump and made clear denunciations of the president’s major role in the insurrection. Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, affirmed, “The violence, destruction and chaos we saw earlier was unacceptable, undemocratic and un-American.” Mitch McConnell, the number one Republican in the Senate later condemned Trump, “There is no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the event of that day.”
Congressional leaders, Republicans and Democrats, were unanimous in their desire to find out who the protestors were, the role of Trump in the event, how the Capitol police were so unprepared for the event, and why the National Guard took so long to arrive on the scene. Over the past four months leaders on both sides of the aisle have tried to form a “9/11” type of commission to investigate the actions that took place on January 6. Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy demanded three requirements of such a commission: (1) equal representation of Democrats and Republicans, (2) equal subpoenaing power by both sides, and (3) no predetermined outcome. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, finally agreed to all of McCarthy’s requests. Republican representative, John Katko and Democrat Bennie Thompson were charged with drafting the language of the bipartisan bill. It seemed that the commission would finally be formed, but then some Republicans acquired amnesia…or became cowards.
It was assumed that, with time, Trump’s influence on the Republican party would diminish due to his role in the insurrection and his other erratic behavior. Nevertheless, he still has a lot of influence among the Republican faithful. Liz Cheney, the number three ranking Republican in the House, who openly denounced Trump, was ousted from her position last week. Republicans faced a dilemma. They could try to restore their party to its core Republican values without Trump or they could cuddle up to the former president and stay in his favor. Most chose the latter because they were afraid they couldn’t win in the 2022 election if Trump opposed them in their Republican primary race or withheld his blessing in the general election.
So, McCarthy urged his fellow Republican colleagues to vote “no” on the bill that would form the commission. Nevertheless, on Wednesday, 35 brave Republican congressional representatives voted “yes”. Now it is time for the Senate to weigh in. Ten Republican senators will need to vote in favor of forming the commission for the bill to pass. I believe that our country is stronger and that we will obtain more of the truth if both major parties actively participate in our public debates. For the good of our country, may Republicans vote to form the commission so that we can find out what really took place on January 6.