Hoppy Kercheval, Opinion

The country needs the Jan. 6 commission

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote before its Memorial Day recess on legislation establishing an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. The bill passed the House 252 to 195. West Virginia First District Congressman David McKinley was among the 35 Republicans who backed the bill.

The outcome in the Senate is less certain. Sixty votes are needed to prevent a filibuster and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has come out against the commission.

“I’ve made the decision to oppose the House Democrats’ slanted and unbalanced proposal for another commission to study the events of Jan. 6,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

Republican West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito told reporters even though the commission will be made up of five Democratic and five Republican appointees, she still has concerns about partisanship.

“It’s now 50/50, but who picks the staff and who does all the other things? These are questions that I am going to be asking, so I haven’t made up my mind on that one yet,” Capito said.

Meanwhile, Joe Manchin strongly supports the commission. The Democrat said the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the events of Jan. 6 “is a critical step to ensuring our nation never has to endure an attack at the hands of our countrymen again. We implore our Senate Republican colleagues to work with us to find a path forward on a commission to examine the events of Jan. 6.”

The commission would be modeled after the 9/11 commission. It would conduct a thorough investigation into the events leading up to, and including, the insurrection. The commission would have the authority to hold hearings, receive evidence and issue subpoenas. The Democratic chair and the Republican vice-chair would have to agree on the subpoenas, or subpoenas could be issued by a majority vote of the commission.

The investigation would also examine the security failures, “including facts and causes relating to the preparedness and response of United States Capitol Police and other federal, state and local law enforcement.”

The Capitol insurrection was an assault on our democracy and a credible threat to the long-held tradition of the peaceful transfer of power. The country deserves a thorough and independent investigation into the causes and the security breakdowns.

Naturally, some fear the commission will be partisan, but it is Washington; there are always those concerns, and they are usually well-founded. However, it is necessary to get sworn testimony on the record from those with relevant information, including some of the insurrection participants.

Why did they storm the Capitol? At whose direction? What did they hope to accomplish?

The partisans can spin the findings any way they want, but at least it would let the American people know, for the record, precisely what happened that day and why.

Hoppy Kercheval is a MetroNews anchor and the longtime host of “Talkline.” Contact him at hoppy.kercheval@wvradio.com.