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Ranking Member Cole Hearing Remarks on H.R. 3237 and H.R. 3233

As prepared for delivery during today’s hearing:

Today’s hearing covers two items. The first measure I’ll discuss is H.R. 3237, an appropriations bill that provides supplemental security funding for the Capitol Complex. It provides $1.9 billion for security upgrades, including funding for the U.S. Capitol Police, National Guard and other agencies that responded to the January 6 attack and that are continuing to provide security to the complex, as well as funds to address coronavirus relief within the Legislative Branch.

Though this bill started out with bipartisan negotiations, my understanding is that Democrats walked away from a Republican counteroffer, choosing instead to go it alone with the partisan bill before us today. Unfortunately, I must oppose it.

And it is truly unfortunate that on a matter of this gravity that Democrats were not interested in an agreement. Republicans on the Appropriations Committee, including myself, have deep concerns about the topline numbers of this bill, as well as the provision that creates a rapid response force within the D.C. National Guard rather than one controlled by and housed within Congress. I look forward to hearing from Ranking Member Granger on the process that led us to this point, as well as hearing her additional concerns about today’s bill. I trust that today’s measure will not be the final word, and I look forward to eventually supporting a bipartisan security supplemental bill that we can all agree on and that will ultimately go to President Biden’s desk.

Our second item, H.R. 3233, establishes a national commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol Complex.  

Before I continue, I want to extend my thanks to Ranking Member Katko and Chairman Thompson of the Homeland Security Committee for their hard work in putting this legislation together. The two of them took an unworkable proposal from the Speaker and turned it into the bill we see today, which is a far, far better bill. I am deeply grateful to both of them for their hard work and good faith.

Nonetheless, I still have serious concerns about this legislation.

First and foremost, I am concerned about the scope of the commission. The events of January 6 did not emerge in a vacuum. Instead, that event is part of a broader wave of violence that has accompanied the increasing coarsening of politics over the past several years and worsening since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Given that many events are inextricably linked, it makes sense to grant any such commission the capability to look more broadly at political violence in this country, including widespread violence of last summer and previous attempts to attack members of this body. After all, the 9/11 Commission was able to look not only at the September 11 attacks, but also the broader context out of which the attacks arose. It seems to me that this commission should do the same.

Second, at this time, there are several investigations into the events of January 6 that are already underway. Multiple committees in both the House and the Senate have held hearings and will continue to hold hearings throughout this year. According to the Washington Post, more than 400 suspects have been charged in connection with the attack, and all of those charged will face legal proceedings that may last for some time. 

Given these ongoing investigations and the fact that there well may be a hundred more investigations underway, I am concerned that adding another investigation from a commission such as this will only muddy the waters and make both due process and justice harder to reach.

Despite these concerns, I again want to thank my good friends, Mr. Katko and Mr. Thompson, for their hard work on this bill, which I hope can be improved further through the legislative process.


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