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How Utah’s GOP congressmen voted on commission to investigate U.S. Capitol riot

Members of the National Guard open a gate in the razor wire topped perimeter fence around the Capitol at sunrise in Washington on March 8.
Members of the National Guard open a gate in the razor wire topped perimeter fence around the Capitol at sunrise in Washington on March 8, 2021. The House passed a bill to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.
Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press

Utah’s four Republican congressmen were split Wednesday on bipartisan legislation to create a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Reps. John Curtis and Blake Moore voted for the bill, while Reps. Chris Stewart and Burgess Owens voted against it. The House passed the measure 252-175, with every Democrat voting in favor.

The bipartisan 10-person commission would be tasked with delivering a report on the causes and facts of the deadly riot by the end of the year.

Curtis said that while he voted for the commission, he believes the bill is imperfect. He said he can understand why many of GOP colleagues opposed it, fearing the potential for the commission to turn partisan with the majority party having control over staff hiring.

“Since the horrible attack on our Capitol, I have supported a bipartisan investigation into what led to the event, why our security wasn’t stronger, and why responses were delayed — and I remain hopeful that this commission can bring forth the facts and information to help our country heal and finally move forward,” he said.

Moore said he has supported a bipartisan commission since January, and his position has not changed.

“While I am comfortable with the legislation as it stands, I welcome input from the Senate as we move forward,” he said.

Stewart said he supports an independent commission conducting a “genuine” inquiry into the attack on Capitol Hill.

“That is not what the House passed today. Unsurprisingly, this largely partisan commission will not yield a bipartisan accounting of the Capitol riot,” he said.

Stewart quoted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., saying, “Republicans can let their constituents know: Are they on the side of truth, or do they want to cover up for the insurrectionists and for Donald Trump?” He said Democrats’ motives for the commission are political.

“Americans deserve an honest audit of Jan. 6. This commission will not provide that service. It is nothing more than a poorly dressed attempt to distract from President Biden’s radical, ineffective policies,” Stewart said.

Owens said what happened at the Capitol was reprehensible and those responsible for the violent attack must be held accountable and fully prosecuted.

“Unfortunately, Americans will not find a bipartisan resolution in Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi’s inherently partisan commission,” he said.

Owens said he supports Department of Justice and FBI investigations and others as they would yield results and improve security vulnerabilities. He said he would also support “fair and balanced” congressional commission investigation into Jan. 6 that gives both parties equal power to hire staff and widens the scope to include a “broad wave of politically fueled violence.”

The legislation now moves to the Senate where its future is unclear. At least 10 Republicans would have to join the Democrats to pass the bill. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., voiced opposition, calling the Democrats’ commission “slanted and unbalanced.”

“It’s not at all clear what new facts or additional investigation yet another commission could actually lay on top of existing efforts by law enforcement and Congress,” he said.

Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney told reporters Tuesday that given the violent attack, “we should understand what mistakes were made and how we could prevent them from happening again.”

During the House debate, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, slammed Republicans for coalescing against the bill, saying “we need two political parties in this country that are both living in reality, and you ain’t one of them.”

“Benghazi — you guys chased the former secretary of state all over the country, spent millions of dollars,” Ryan said, referring to Hillary Clinton. “We have people scaling the Capitol, hitting the Capitol Police with lead pipes across the head and we can’t get bipartisanship. What else has to happen in this country?”