Lawmakers reach bipartisan deal to probe Jan. 6 attack
The proposed commission would have investigative and subpoena powers and would hold hearings to produce a report by the end of 2021.
The Capitol Building on Jan. 6, 2021. (Image credit: Sebastian Portillo/Shutterstock.com)
The House Homeland Security Committee announced a bipartisan agreement on Friday to form an independent commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The commission is modeled on the independent, congressionally ordered investigation of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The deal comes with a legislative proposal to establish the commission, which would have to pass the House and Senate and be signed into law.
Membership on the commission will be split evenly among Democrats and Republicans. Five commissioners including the chair will be named by the Speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader with the remaining five including the vice-chair to be named by the House and Senate minority leaders.
Current government employees are ineligible to serve on the commission, but an description of the proposed legislation indicates that commissioners should have " "national recognition and significant depth of experience" in at least two significant policy areas, including technology, cybersecurity, counterterrorism, intelligence, defense, law enforcement, governmental service and civil rights, liberties and privacy.
The agreement extends to the commission the authority to hold hearings and issue subpoenas for evidence and to compel witness testimony. The commission will set up shop in a government facility and have the authority to enter into contracts to support its mission. A final report from the commission is due Dec. 31, 2021. A majority vote is required for the commission to issue subpoenas.
The legislation also directs federal agencies to "expeditiously" provide any needed security clearances for commissioners and staff.
"Inaction – or just moving on – is simply not an option," Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said in a statement. "We owe it to the Capitol police and all who enter our citadel of democracy to investigate the attack."