A bipartisan measure that would create a commission of experts to investigate the deadly January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol suffered a significant setback on Tuesday, when the top House Republican leader came out against it.
In a statement, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, "I cannot support this legislation."
McCarthy's rejection disappointed Democrats and Republicans who had hoped to put partisanship aside to probe the Capitol riot.
"I'm pissed." The Democratic Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Massachusetts Representative James McGovern, on Tuesday tore into McCarthy for rejecting the probe.
"And the top leader of the Republican Party comes out and says, 'I can't do it.' Can't support it. I mean, it is pathetic."
The bill was crafted jointly by Mississippi Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson and New York Republican Representative John Katko, and would create a body modeled after the 9/11 Commission which investigated the 2001 terror attacks.
The January 6th riot came as hundreds of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, interrupting the formal congressional certification of President Joe Biden's election victory, fighting with police and leading to the deaths of five people, including a Capitol Police officer.
But in its aftermath, Republicans have tried to downplay the severity of the attack and distance themselves and the former president from its perpetrators.
"It was not an insurrection."
Republican Representative Andrew Clyde last week went even further, likening the violent mob that vandalized Congress to "a normal tourist visit."
Some Republicans had asked that the proposed commission also investigate unrelated forms of political violence, including protests against police brutality, and a shooting in 2017 that injured Republican House Whip Steve Scalise. McCarthy is a close ally of Trump, and McGovern suggested that the minority leader was prioritizing the political whims of the ex-president, not the American people.
"I assume what happened is, Trump got wind that we were doing this, and called up the minority leader and said, 'I don't like it.'"
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that she was not surprised by what she called the "cowardice" shown by some Republicans.
Her party plans to take up the legislation in the House Wednesday, where they hold a slim majority.
Its fate is less certain in the Senate, where it would likely require significant Republican support to clear the chamber.