After House Democrats negotiated approximately forever with Republican lawmakers to come up with some version of an independent commission to investigate an insurrection attempt that caused the evacuation of the House and Senate, eventually settling on a version that gives Republicans most of what they demanded, Republican leadership ever so briefly suggested that while they were still opposed to the creation of the committee, they wouldn't tell their membership to vote against it.
That lasted less than a day, of course. By Tuesday evening Republican leadership had sent out messages asking their members to do just that, and while Minority Whip Steve Scalise asserted they were only recommending a no vote, not whipping members against it, his office soon made moves to do that, too. It seems that the compromises giving Republicans equal membership on the committee and shared subpoena power in addition to a hard deadline requiring the commission to finish their report before next January would not accomplish much: On the day of the vote, Republican House and Senate leadership are united in rejecting an independent investigation into the causes of a violent coup attempt aiming to nullify the November elections and install a leader by fiat.
Sen. Mitch McConnell wasted little time in rejecting the commission as well: After similar mumblings purporting to be undecided on the matter, by this morning the Senate Republican leader had—surprise!—also decided that even this commission makeup was too "unbalanced" towards Democrats to be supported.
The swiftness with which both House and Senate leadership reversed their initial Tuesday positions could have something to do with Donald Trump, the insurrection's leader, angrily denouncing the "unfairness" of the proposed investigation later in the day. While McConnell was willing to pin the blame for the insurrection directly on Trump even while crafting blowhard excuses for why the Senate should not impeach Trump over the violence, he has been as consistent as the seditionists themselves in rejecting calls for a commission tasked with reporting on the details.
The reason House and Senate Republicans continue to demand that Congress launch no independent investigation of an act of insurrection that nearly succeeded in capturing or assassinating Trump's declared enemies remains the same as always: A majority of those Republican lawmakers themselves promoted the false propaganda Trump and his team used to attack the integrity of the election, claiming it was "stolen" and therefore must be nullified. Their own actions caused deaths. It was their words that convinced—and continue to convince—the most radicalized members of their base that overturning an American election based on provable hoaxes was both patriotic and necessary.
The commission will find that blame for the violence rests squarely on Donald Trump and his top allies. Trump promoted the Jan. 6 "march" to the Capitol; the intent of the march was to stop Congress from carrying out the final electoral certification that would declare Trump the loser; the goal of the marchers who broke into the Capitol after his speech, scheduled so as to coincide exactly with the congressional count, stated in no uncertain terms that their goal was to end the count, force Congress into rejecting the election's outcome, and reinstate Trump as unconstitutional national leader.
Republican lawmakers were themselves both witnesses to those events and, in many cases, accessories. Rep. Kevin McCarthy is in particular danger if the commission is allowed to summon him to give testimony, as his conversation with Trump on that day—a conversation in which Trump expressed support for the rioters and rejected McCarthy's own pleas for intervention—is significant evidence of Trump's true intent as the violence was unfolding. Numerous Republican lawmakers and Trump appointees have similar testimony on Trump's actions and intent; all of it, put together into an official record of the event, will make clear that the Republican Party allied itself with seditionists that day, and that continued propaganda intended to discredit the outcome of the November election continues to threaten our nation's safety in the aftermath.
To a patriotic party, a full accounting of an attempted violent coup against American democracy would be a necessity. It would result in a far deeper investigation than any other terrorist act, such as the one in Benghazi. But to a party that has slipped into Dear Leaderism, an obsessive distribution of party-backed hoaxes and propaganda claims, condemnations of widespread voting, a near-total rejection of the notion that nonmovement governance is legitimate, and new insistence that crimes in service to Republican goals—Trump himself, Flynn, Manafort, Bannon, Arpaio—are both legitimate and to be celebrated, an accounting for the coup would predictably end in a devastating indictment of their party's corruption.
Not only are party leaders demanding their members withhold their support for such investigations, those leaders will work to sabotage and discredit the probe at every possible opportunity. They will demonize those appointed to the committee as traitors; they will spread new hoaxes claiming testimony against party members is a conspiracy against them.
The commission cannot come to any conclusion other than Trump himself gathered the marchers, painted rebellion as patriotic, and turned them loose to stop the transfer of power. For a Republican Party still stuck to the bottom of his shoe, that is something the public cannot be allowed to hear.
The United States Capitol Police has issued a scathing statement condemning Republican leaders for their opposition. “It is inconceivable that some of the Members we protect, would down play the events of January 6th. Member safety was dependent on the heroic actions of USCP. It is a privileged assumption for Members to have the point of view that ‘it wasn’t that bad.’”
The House bill passes by a vote of 252-175. 35 Republicans and all Democrats voted yes.