Barrasso, Lummis criticize Jan. 6 commission


CHEYENNE — A day after the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation to establish an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Wyoming’s U.S. senators came out critical of the measure, breaking from the stance of their counterpart, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.

The House approved the Jan. 6 commission Wednesday by a 252-175 vote, with 35 Republicans supporting the measure, despite opposition from top GOP officials. Cheney, who lost her GOP leadership position last week due to her ongoing criticisms of former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, was among those who backed the commission.

“All members, especially House and Senate leaders, should support this effort, and there should be no delay in passing this bill to find the facts and the truth about what happened on Jan. 6 and the events leading up to it,” Cheney said in a statement last week. “In the aftermath of national crises, such as Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy assassination or Sept. 11, our nation has established commissions so the American people know the truth and we can prevent these events from happening again. The same thing is needed for Jan. 6, and this commission is an important step forward to answering those fundamental questions.”

The legislation passed in the House would establish a commission similar to one that studied the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, with 10 members to be appointed by Democratic and Republican leaders. The bill would need to gain the support of 10 GOP senators to head to President Joe Biden’s desk for final approval.

It is unclear whether that support will materialize, but it likely won’t come from Wyoming’s senators. In a break from Cheney, the state’s other two federal delegates offered their support for ongoing law enforcement investigations into the attack on the U.S. Capitol, but argued that the House legislation was unnecessary.

“There were major security failures at the Capitol on Jan. 6,” U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said in a statement Thursday provided to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. “I support the existing, ongoing investigations to address those failures and make sure individuals involved in criminal acts are prosecuted. What we don’t want is another partisan and political exercise. It seems like that’s what Speaker Pelosi and her unbalanced proposal is really aiming for.”

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., who was among a small fraction of GOP senators to oppose the certification of Pennsylvania’s election results, also expressed little interest in the Jan. 6 commission, according to a statement from Abegail Cave, a spokesperson for the senator.

“Senator Lummis is intent on moving forward from the events on Jan. 6,” Cave said in an email Thursday. “The Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security are working diligently to bring those who infiltrated the Capitol to justice, and a partisan commission would do nothing to aid them in those efforts.”

Their stances came a day after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced he was opposed to the proposal.

“After careful consideration, 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.

However, the bill could still receive a vote in the Senate, where Democrats hold a narrow advantage but need 10 Republicans to join them for the bill to become law. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has pledged to put the proposal up for a vote there in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Trump issued a statement Thursday morning criticizing the 35 House Republicans who joined congressional Democrats in passing the Jan. 6 commission legislation.

“See, 35 wayward Republicans – they just can’t help themselves. We have much better policy and are much better for the Country, but the Democrats stick together, the Republicans don’t,” Trump said in the statement. “They don’t have the Romney’s, Little Ben Sasse’s, and Cheney’s of the world. Unfortunately, we do. Sometimes there are consequences to being ineffective and weak. The voters understand!”

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