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Republicans cast doubt on Pelosi concessions on January 6 commission

AP

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is making concessions in a bid to revive her effort for a 9/11-style commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol, but the two parties still don’t appear to be resuming serious negotiations amid a dispute over the scope of what the commission would investigate.

Pelosi’s move to give Republicans some of what they’ve asked for in the independent panel — an even number of Democrats and Republicans and equal subpoena power — places new emphasis on the biggest reason the talks remain stalled: Republicans say the commission must also investigate violence from far left groups surrounding last year’s protests of police brutality, something Democrats say is an effort to distract from the role that former President Donald Trump played in the lead-up to the insurrection.

On Thursday, Pelosi said that two of the three Republican objections to her initial commission plan had been reconciled in her new plan, leaving only the scope remaining at the sticking point.

“If we can come to agreement on the first two, why do they object to the scope, which is to find the truth of what happened on January 6?” she said. “Our purpose is to find the truth for that. It’s not about investigating one thing or another that they may want to draw interest.”

Republicans, however, were dismissive this week of Pelosi’s overture, saying they haven’t actually seen any new proposal yet — something they suggest is a sign the California Democrat isn’t actually serious about finding an agreement.

“She hasn’t responded to us or talked to us, so it’s still a long way away,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Thursday. “I think if anything is going to happen, she’s going to have to talk with us instead of saying she’s talking to some Republicans. We don’t even know if they’re elected who she is talking to.”

Republicans insist that the independent panel should go beyond the January 6 attack and also look at violence that’s occurred surrounding protests of police brutality over the past year — namely violence from left-wing extremist group Antifa.

“I think there’s a lot of things that happened. It’s not just on January 6,” McCarthy said. “We had on Good Friday an officer get killed. I think if you’re going to have a commission you should look at the whole broad spectrum. We just went through a whole summer of riots throughout this city. We should grasp that as well.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed the sentiment at a press conference this week.

“The scope of it, they have to deal with a little bit broader than just January the 6th,” McConnell said. “We’ve also had a number of violent disturbances around the country last year. And I think we have to look at this in a broader scope, and with a totally balanced, 9/11-style commission. If she were willing to put that forward, I think it would enjoy broad bipartisan support.”

The comments from the two Republican leaders, who say they have yet to speak to Pelosi about the proposal, underscore the fact that the two parties are still far apart on the commission proposal — not to mention the fact that they aren’t sitting down directly.

“I have gotten nothing from her,” McCarthy said of Pelosi. “Leader McConnell has received nothing from her. She was even in my office yesterday. She could have dropped the letter off. Nothing. So, I’m not quite sure who she’s talking to or what she’s talking about.”

Asked Thursday why Republicans said they hadn’t heard from her on the new proposal, Pelosi said that “some Republicans have.”

“Don’t you worry about that,” she added. “One step at a time.”

Democrats argue that the GOP insistence on investigating Antifa is a sign they don’t really want a commission that scrutinizes pro-Trump supporters who attacked the Capitol after Trump repeatedly lied that the 2020 election had been stolen from him.

“The country deserves a serious look at this, and not to pretend that it was Antifa that attacked the Capitol,” said House Administration Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, whose committee is involved in the legislative effort to create the commission. “Some of their public statements are ridiculous.”

The push for an independent commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection, which Pelosi first proposed in February, had languished in recent weeks, and Pelosi had floated the notion that a congressional select committee would be a potential alternative. But last week, Pelosi sent a letter to lawmakers saying she was making a new proposal to Republicans to try to push the issue forward.

CNN reported Tuesday that the new proposal included an even number of members appointed by Democrats and Republicans, after Republicans objected to her initial plan that would have been a seven-to-four split for Democrats.

And on Thursday, a source familiar with the matter told CNN that Pelosi had also agreed to allow subpoenas to be issued either through a joint decision from the chair and vice chair — the top Democrat and Republican on the commission — or a majority vote of the commission. That concession, which was first reported by Punchbowl News, means that every subpoenas would be bipartisan.

McCarthy said Thursday that the 50-50 split on commission members and bipartisan subpoena power “was the minimum to sit down to negotiate.” McCarthy added that he was not going to negotiate through the press, however, since he has not seen the offer himself.

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