By Ryan Nobles, Annie Grayer and Jeremy Herb, CNN
Updated: Tue, 20 Apr 2021 23:09:52 GMT
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is offering a significant change to her plans for a 9/11-style commission to investigate what led up to the Capitol insurrection on January 6, proposing to create an independent panel with an equal number of Republican and Democratic members, a source familiar with the negotiations told CNN.
Pelosi briefed her leadership team on the new proposal Monday evening, the source said, as she looks to break a logjam with Republicans on the commission to investigate the attack on the US Capitol.
Pelosi teased the changes in a letter to colleagues on Friday afternoon. The speaker wrote that she had "once again sent a proposal for such a Commission to the Republicans, modeled after the 9/11 Commission."
It's still unclear whether the change will be enough for Republicans to get on board. As Pelosi herself has said, the makeup of the proposed commission was just one of the sticking points that had stalled talks on the commission, with Democrats and Republicans at odds over the scope of what the panel would investigate -- including former President Donald Trump's role leading up to the insurrection. Republicans are calling for an examination of violence surrounding last year's protests of police brutality, too.
"The challenge that we have is: what is the scope? The scope -- what we want is one thing: the truth. 'What happened on 9/11 and how we can prevent it from happening again?'" Pelosi said at a news conference last week. "It's not about reviewing the elections. It's not about examining Black Lives Matter. It's about what happened on January 6 and how we can prevent it from happening again. So if we can agree on scope, I think that we can agree on a commission. The size, timing, all the rest of that, those are negotiable, and that's not the main part of it."
Her letter to colleagues on Friday was met with surprise by Republicans who are involved in the negotiations.
"We've never seen it, and if our minority leader's never seen it, then I don't know what she's talking about," said Rep. Rodney Davis a Republican from Illinois and the ranking GOP member on the House Administration Committee. "But in the end it's up to her to actually fulfill what she said she did."
Davis' committee would lead the legislative process on the bill.
The offices of both House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who have been actively involved with the negotiations, told CNN they have yet to see a new draft proposal and they have not had any communication with Pelosi on the commission in several weeks.
On Tuesday, McConnell signaled that he was ready to deal, but hadn't heard of any changes to the proposal.
"Number one, the commission needs to be balanced," McConnell said. "And number two, the scope of it needs to deal with a little bit broader than just January the sixth. We've also had a number of violent disturbances around the country last year, and I think we ought to look at this broader scope, and with a totally balanced, 9/11-style commission. If she were willing to put that forward, I think it would enjoy broad bipartisan support."
Pelosi announced plans to form the commission in February. The goal was to create an independent, bipartisan panel tasked with investigating the circumstances surrounding the attack on the Capitol.
But the proposal was immediately met with partisan bickering. Republicans complained about the imbalance of Pelosi's initial offering of seven Democratic appointees to only four from the GOP, in addition to their desire for the panel to investigate a wide range of political extremism from both the right and left. Pelosi and Democrats have argued the commission should be solely focused on what led to the events of January 6.
In late March, Democrats made it clear they were willing to abandon the idea of the commission if an agreement could not be reached and proceed with investigations in various House Committees, but Pelosi continued to insist that she was committed to making the panel a reality.
Still, Davis said he thought Pelosi's announcement of a new proposal was just political maneuvering.
"This is just the typical gamesmanship she's playing with the 9/11-type of commission," Davis said. "We've got a bill that would lay out a very even condition based upon recommendations from some of the 911 commissioners. But she's not serious, and this is another example of her lack of seriousness of actually getting to the bottom of what happened."