We can't let the GOP undermine Jan. 6 panel's findings — or undermine cops
By Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Washington, January 19, 2023
Originally published in the USA Today Network
They voted to gut the Internal Revenue Service — again — to help millionaires cheat on their taxes. They passed a pair of efforts to further restrict women’s freedom and bodily autonomy. They rewarded rightwing extremists with seats on important committees.
As a coming attraction of House Republicans’ aims and priorities, these next two years will be rough for Americans who care about good governance.
But the first-week measure that may turn out to be the most damaging is Republicans’ creation of a new subcommittee to examine, what they label, the “weaponization of the federal government.”
The description is Orwellian. The new panel is itself a weapon to attack the government and batter public trust. By Republican leaders’ own descriptions, the new committee will work to undermine open investigations of former President Donald Trump and his pawns, spread unfounded conspiracy theories, whitewash the Jan. 6 insurrection and smear law enforcement officers.
The panel’s likely chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, is one of the most relentless rightwing partisans in all of Congress. Naturally, he voted to throw out the 2020 election results.
He wasn’t alone. In the hours after the insurrection, 68% of House Republicans — more than two-thirds of their entire caucus — voted to finish the rioters’ work. In this new Congress, the roster of Republicans who do not fully acknowledge Joe Biden’s victory have not shrunken, but likely grown.
At the same time, the ranks of pro-democracy House Republicans has withered. Of the 10 House Republican members who bravely voted to impeach Trump, just two remain in office. The others were defeated or routed into retirement by rightwing invective.
With this membership it should be no surprise House Republican members have never embraced investigating the insurrection. While the just-concluded Jan. 6 Committee produced stunning, superlative work on that dark day establishing the culpability of both Trump and conservatives in Washington, Republicans in Congress reject and ridicule the findings.
Members of Congress targeted by the insurrection have placed their party over their own institution because of their fealty to Trump who incited the insurrection. This new weaponization committee should be considered the dark twin of the Jan. 6 panel in the way nighttime compliments sunlight.
House Republicans want to delegitimize the findings of the Jan. 6 panel at any cost. And law enforcement is their collateral damage.
This is especially galling given Republicans’ recent record on policing. Following the death of George Floyd and ensuing public protests, Republicans once again lied about Democrats by falsely claiming we sought to defund police departments and resources.
As the longtime co-leader of the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus, these gibes stung. Especially because of their untruth and hypocrisy.
All four of the budgets proffered by Trump sought to gut the Community Oriented Policing Services and Byrne Memorial Justice, programs essential to state and local departments across America.
Republicans killed the HEROES Act during the pandemic’s worst days. This bill would have provided $900 billion for state and local governments to avoid cuts to essential services, like first responders.
On May 20, 2021, every single House Republican voted to defund our Capitol Police force. When we voted again to fund the Capitol Police on July 28, 2021, just one Republican out of 206 voted for the funding. Worse, in the final months of last year, cries from MAGA Republicans seeking to “Defund the FBI” grew louder.
And to this day, Trump’s deadbeat campaign still owes nearly $2 million to over a dozen different police departments who kept order at his political rallies.
Republicans’ recent record on police funding is so poor, it’s no wonder too they want to deflect.
Recently, we marked the second anniversary of the Jan. 6 riots. We held a ceremony on the steps of the Capitol to mark this solemn occasion. We stood with the relatives of fallen police. Only a single Republican member showed up. One.
It may seem strange that a political party which long prided itself for support of law and order would be so hostile to police.
The reason GOP leaders want to delegitimize policing isn’t complicated: the erosion of American democracy is now perhaps the central unifying tenet of the Republican Party. Courageous law enforcement officers, whether police officers on the beat, FBI investigators, or prosecutors execute the laws to protect our democracy.
Republicans’ fight is with the rule of law itself, and so with the men and women who uphold the law.
Over the 118th Congress, Democrats can and must push back at the tidal wave of lies that are sure to emanate from this shameful committee.