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Growing divisions among US Republicans over Jan. 6 Capitol riot commission

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
President Trump's supporters gather outside the Capitol building in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6 (Photo by Zuma Wire)

The need for an independent commission to probe the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol has divided the Republican Party, with growing fears that it might mar the GOP’s election prospects in 2022.

The party members in the US Congress got involved in an ugly brawl on Sunday over the need to constitute a panel to investigate the events of Jan. 6, which led to the killing of five people.

The move to establish the commission received approval from the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives last week, with the backing of 35 Republicans.

However, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he opposes the bill, which will be up for debate in the Senate this week, with clouds of uncertainty still looming over it.  

McConnell and the House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy had joined hands to kill the bill, but the House voted by 252-175 to approve the commission.

“I believe Republicans in the Senate will decide that it's too early to create that commission,” Senator Roy Blunt, a member of McConnell's leadership team, said in an interview to Fox News on Sunday.

Blunt, like McConnell, believes that the ongoing probes by two Senate committees are sufficient to settle the issues surrounding the deadly riot by the supporters of former US President Donald Trump.

“Is the priority to secure the Capitol, to do what we need to do to better train, better prepare Capitol Police, decide what we want to do in the future?" Blunt asked. "Or is the priority to take what will be a couple of years, in my view, to decide what happened inside the White House?”

Blunt’s remarks have further added to the uncertainty over the bill, with doubts about whether Senate Democrats can find support from 10 Republicans. In the Senate, most bills need 60 votes for go-ahead.

Others, however, maintain that a commission is required to examine whether the then-president Trump took action to stop the violence as it unfolded.

“I'm optimistic that we can get past these issues," Collins said in an interview to ABC. “I strongly support the creation of an independent commission.”

GOP lawmakers and supporters fear the inquiry commission would keep public attention on violence at the US Capitol and could expose new details about Trump's handling of the Jan. 6 events that might affect the party’s chances in 2022 midterm elections.

Some Republicans like Adam Kinzinger, however, feel that the failure to establish a commission could lead to worse consequences for Republicans.

"What's going to happen if this thing fails is that (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi will run a select committee and this could go all the way to 2024," Kinzinger, who voted to impeach Trump, said in an interview to Fox News on Sunday.

“This is going to the 2022 midterms anyway, particularly if us as Republicans don't take ownership for what happened,” Kinzinger said.

The divide within the Republican Party over Trump’s handling of the Jan. 6 events and its aftermath has come out in open in recent weeks, with Trump-critics being sidelined or ostracized.

Republican politician from Wyoming Liz Cheney was voted out of House Republican leadership recently over her strong criticism of Trump and his unfounded claims of election fraud.

She is reportedly planning to challenge the former president for ideological dominance of the GOP.

In an interview on ABC last week, Cheney said she would do “everything necessary to make sure he (Trump) never gets anywhere close to the Oval Office again”.

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