Cross-partisan Coalition Urges Congress to Establish Comprehensive January 6 Commission

  • February 19, 2021

Washington, DC — Last evening more than a dozen democracy reform organizations urged Congress to look beyond security failures alone when establishing an independent commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection. Since January 6, Republican and Democratic Members of Congress have called for a commission—styled after the independent, bipartisan 9/11 Commission—to investigate the attack on the Capitol Complex, which resulted in five deaths and interfered with the peaceful transfer of presidential power. Their calls have emphasized an examination of security failures day-of, however, and fail to account for factors that led to the riot.

In a letter to U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, co-signers—including Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, Project on Government Oversight, Public Citizen, Niskanen Center, Protect Democracy, and others—commend the Speaker’s recent announcement that the formation of a commission will go forward. In addition, they call on Congress to grant such a commission the authority to conduct a “comprehensive examination” of the attack’s causes, “a scope enjoyed by the 9/11 Commission and an important component of its success.” They note that this comprehensive examination could include factors such as “the spread of disinformation” and “the turn to political violence as a means of resolving political differences.”

“Most important, Congress should charge the Commission with identifying corrective measures to prevent future attacks on our democracy—measures that not only secure the Capitol and preserve its accessibility, but also preserve our capacity to engage in the peaceful transfer of power.” The co-signers continue: “The January 6 attacks were a reminder that in addition to fortifying the physical infrastructure of our legislative branch, we must also fortify the infrastructure of our representative democracy.”

Polling shows that a large majority of American voters—including 61% of Republicans and 59% of independents—support creating a commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection and to prevent future such attacks. 

“The peaceful transfer of power is a cornerstone of our democracy, one that was threatened for the first time in our nation’s history on January 6,” said Erica Newland, a counsel with Protect Democracy. “Addressing the root causes of the attacks at the Capitol is critical to the preservation of our democracy.”