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Reflecting on January 6, 2021

Reflecting on January 6, 2021
By Congressman Mike Simpson

Washington, D.C. – “On the one-year anniversary of the horrific attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, I would like to reflect on the events and lessons learned since that day, and the opportunities Congress had to respond.

“Like most Americans, I was deeply troubled by the events of January 6th.  I was especially dismayed by the images of brave law enforcement officers, themselves public servants, put in danger while simply trying to do their jobs.  We now know that at least 140 law enforcement officers were injured, one died from injuries sustained in the line of duty, four officers committed suicide in the weeks following, and 153 Capitol Police officers have left the force since the attack. 

“January 6th was a dark and tragic moment for our nation.  Americans were left reeling, feeling hurt and angry and craving justice.  Many Americans, including myself, still have questions about how such a disturbing event could take place at the United States Capitol.  On May 14, 2021, U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Ranking Member John Katko (R-NY) jointly negotiated and introduced H.R. 3233, a bill to establish an independent commission to investigate the events of January 6th.

“H.R. 3233 proposed a bipartisan commission, similar to commissions that have been created in the past, and would have been comprised of five members appointed by Republicans and five appointed by Democrats, none of whom were to be Members of Congress, to 1) conduct an investigation of the relevant facts and circumstances relating to the attack on the Capitol; 2) identify, review, and evaluate the causes of and the lessons learned from this attack; and 3) submit specified reports containing findings, conclusions, and recommendations to improve the detection, prevention, preparedness for, and response to targeted violence and domestic terrorism and improve the security posture of the U.S. Capitol Complex.

“Contrary to certain internet rumors, the commission established by H.R. 3233 was carefully crafted to prevent any party in Congress from having undue influence over the findings.  The commission would have consisted of five members selected by Republicans and five selected by Democrats.  Members could not be current government officers or employees, and they should have been U.S. citizens with expertise in at least two of the following areas: governmental service; law enforcement; civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy; the Armed Forces; intelligence; counterterrorism; cybersecurity; technology; or law.  The decision to subpoena would have to be agreed upon by a majority of members, and the commission had a definitive end date of December 31, 2021.  The commission also had no predetermined findings.

“I was also concerned that if this commission failed, we would end up with what we see today: a politicized commission with members hand selected by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The current commission is seemingly aimed not at investigating security failures of January 6th, but at politicizing the attack and using the commission as more of a partisan witch hunt.  The findings of a commission with a clear political agenda will not help heal the wounds that were created that day—it has and will continue to serve to divide our nation further as members representing half of the country were essentially blocked from participation.  Those without buy-in could never trust the findings of such a commission. 

“The position of Speaker of the House is to represent the entire House of Representatives, not just the majority party.  Speaker Pelosi once again failed our country by staying true to form and putting politics before country.  Republicans will hopefully be in a position to rectify this next year.  We will inherit a deeply divided Congress and nation.  It will be the opportunity—and challenge—of a lifetime to do better.  America depends on it.”