WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — The U.S. House voted Wednesday to create an independent commission on the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, sending the legislation to an uncertain future in the Senate as Republican increasingly line up against the bipartisan investigation and align themselves with former President Donald Trump.
Maine Sen. Angus King, an Independent, has been calling for an investigation of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol since the day after it happened.
He told NEWS CENTER Maine that having a mob storm the Capitol in the middle of proceedings to determine the next president is worth fully understanding.
"The demands or proposals of the Republicans were met, but they still said no. And I believe we ought to have the investigation. And when people start moving heaven and earth to block an investigation, that suggests there is something they don't want found out."
Democrats say an independent investigation is crucial to reckoning what happened that day, when a violent mob of Trump's supporters smashed into the Capitol to try and overturn President Joe Biden's victory.
Modeled after the investigation into the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the legislation would establish an independent, 10-member commission that would make recommendations by the end of the year for securing the Capitol and preventing another insurrection. It passed the House in a 252-175 vote.
Maine Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree voted for the legislation on Wednesday. In a statement following the vote, she said the commission "will give the American people an objective understanding of how such a horrific attack could occur and prevent future threats."
Rep. Jared Golden did not vote, as he is taking a break from Washington following the birth of his first child.
Thirty-five House Republicans joined Democrats in voting to create the independent commission, risking the wrath of Trump and flouting GOP leaders who condemned the proposal as unfairly partisan and unneeded. Most of the 35 Republicans backing the commission were moderates.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday morning that he will oppose the legislation, joining with House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, who came out against it Tuesday.
King said he's "puzzled" by Republicans' opposition, given the House met their demands for the bipartisan commission. He said, "Whenever somebody is against a neutral independent investigation, the question immediately comes to mind, 'What is it they don't want to find?'"
Republican Sen. Susan Collins said she supports a commission similar to the one that looked into the Sept. 11 attacks.
“There are still many unanswered questions about the violence that occurred at the Capitol on January 6th,” Collins said in a statement to NEWS CENTER Maine. “To examine the events leading up to the attack, find out exactly what happened, and learn lessons for the future, I support the creation of a commission along the lines of the 9/11 Commission that was headed by former congressman Lee Hamilton and former governor Tom Kean.”
She continued to say the House bill “should be modified to follow the 9/11 Commission’s non-partisan, independent investigation as closely as possible” and also said the commission “should be staffed by experienced personnel chosen by both the Chairman and Vice Chairman.”