116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa’s U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley on Wednesday questioned the need to create an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, following reports that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will oppose such legislation.
The bill would establish an independent, 10-member commission that would make recommendations for securing the Capitol and preventing another such riot. The panel would issue a final report by Dec. 31.
Some Republicans have said they think an independent review is necessary.
Other Republicans, including Grassley, suspect Democrats will likely drag out the panel's work into next year heading into the 2022 midterm elections to keep focus on the dangerous fallout of Republican fealty to, or at least silence about, President Donald Trump's lie that he lost the 2020 election due to widespread fraud.
Grassley, in a weekly conference call with Iowa reporters, said he suspects the panel "is part of a scheme" by Democrats "to distract from whether or not the Democratic Congress is getting its job done, or the crises that this administration is not facing in a very good way," including an influx of unaccompanied minors and migrants from Mexico and Central America at the nation’s southern border.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Wednesday he will hold a vote on the bill despite GOP objections, charging that Republicans are "caving" to Trump, who encouraged his supporters to head to Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 to stop Congress' certification of electoral votes and overturn his defeat to Democrat Joe Biden.
The Biden administration said it supports the legislation and that the American people deserve "a full and fair accounting to prevent future violence and strengthen the security and resilience of our democratic institutions."
Trump released a statement Tuesday night urging Republicans against approving what he called a "Democrat trap."
Grassley said he has several conditions for whether he would support legislation creating the panel. Chief among them, Grassley said, is the commission should only be established if it can investigate other violent acts, including racial justice protests last summer following the killing of George Floyd by police.
"We've had rioting in this country — some of it has been called peaceful protest — over a long period of time," Grassley said. "And sometimes even extremist groups have been involved in some of that. Portland, Ore., (is) just one example. At the very least, for me, it needs to broaden the scope of the investigations."
Grassley noted he has sent oversight letters to the FBI and other agencies about their investigations into the Jan. 6 riot.
"Then you want to remember that there's also a couple committees (in) Congress investigating what's going on, which would raise some questions about whether or not this needs to be done," he said.
Grassley also joined McConnell in questioning whether the panel's work was necessary in light of the hundreds of criminal cases stemming from the Jan. 6 attack, in which rioters brutally beat police, broke in through windows and doors and hunted for lawmakers.
"Law enforcement is doing a very good job of arresting 440 people; maybe a few more than that," Grassley said. "And there's a great deal of prosecutions going on."
The debate over the commission comes at a time when some Republicans have begun to downplay the severity of the Jan. 6 attack, in which one congressman compared Capitol rioters to tourists.
And it follows last week's ouster by House Republicans of Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming from her post as the chamber's No. 3 GOP leader for her repeated rebukes and criticisms of Trump's false claims of a stolen election and his role in inciting the Jan. 6 riot.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.