The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Rep. Tim Ryan blasts GOP opponents of Jan. 6 commission: ‘What else has to happen in this country?’

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) on May 19 slammed members of the Republican Party who are opposed to the formation of a Jan. 6 commission. (Video: The Washington Post)
Placeholder while article actions load

As it became clear on Wednesday that Republican leaders will battle to prevent an independent commission on the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection, one Democrat’s frustration boiled over on the House floor.

In a fiery speech, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) laid into the majority of Republicans who voted against taking a deeper look at how the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol came about.

“We have people scaling the Capitol, hitting the Capitol Police with lead pipes across the head, and we can’t get bipartisanship,” Ryan said, raising his voice.

“What else has to happen in this country?” he continued. “This is a slap in the face to every rank-and-file cop in the United States.” The assault on the Capitol resulted in the deaths of five people, and 140 police officers were injured.

The striking moment swiftly went viral, with one clip gaining more than 3 million views by early Thursday, as a chorus of Democrats — and a few anti-Trump conservatives — joined Ryan in criticizing the GOP for not uniting behind the probe.

Ultimately, the House passed the resolution to create a Jan. 6 commission 252-to-175, with 35 Republicans joining Democrats to support the measure. But the bill’s fate in the Senate is in jeopardy after a number of prominent Republicans came out against it this week.

House passes bill to create commission to investigate Jan. 6 attack on Capitol, but its chances in the Senate are dim

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made clear Wednesday that he will not support the bill, which he called a “slanted and unbalanced proposal.”

“It’s not at all clear what new facts or additional investigation yet another commission could actually lay on top of existing efforts by law enforcement and Congress,” McConnell said on Wednesday.

McConnell’s comments echo a strong resistance among Republicans to a commission that probably would look more thoroughly into the role former president Donald Trump played on Jan. 6, including how he communicated with others in the GOP that day and how he responded as rioters stormed the Capitol.

Republicans divided over whether to support Jan. 6 commission that would put Trump’s actions in the spotlight

Trump has consistently opposed the commission proposal, dismissing it as a “Democrat trap.”

“It is just more partisan unfairness and unless the murders, riots, and fire bombings in Portland, Minneapolis, Seattle, Chicago, and New York are also going to be studied, this discussion should be ended immediately,” Trump said in a statement this week.

Criticism of the Republican opposition soon spilled over into the late-night TV shows Wednesday night.

On “The Daily Show,” host Trevor Noah took a shot at Trump, joking that the former president was trying to claim that “all riots matter.” He then conceded it made political sense for Republicans to oppose the commission, which could uncover troubling facts about origins of the deadly riot.

“I’m not surprised that the GOP leaders are trying to derail this thing, you know, investigating the insurrection means the Republican Party would have to take a good hard look at itself,” Noah said.

Some Republicans defended their votes on Wednesday night by suggesting the independent commission would have been biased and partisan.

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.) said that the Jan. 6 riot was an “absolute tragedy,” but he claimed the discussions around it had grown “hyper politicized.”

“So, for anyone who has a desire to continue to politicize this issue, go ahead, you already have plenty of ways to do that without a special commission,” he said in a statement after casting a vote against the bill.

Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) downplayed the seriousness of the Jan. 6 riot as an attempt to interfere with the election. “If it was an insurrection, it was the worst example of an insurrection in the history of mankind,” Bishop said. “It was a riot, it was a mob, and it was significant and it was troublesome.”

Still, 35 House Republicans — including Liz Cheney (Wyo.), Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) and John Katko (N.Y.) — sided with Democrats.

How Republicans voted on a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot

After Katko pledged to vote for the commission on Wednesday, Ryan thanked his colleague before ripping into the larger Republican Party.

“I want to thank the gentleman from New York and the other Republicans who are supporting this and thank them for their bipartisanship,” Ryan said. “To the other 90 percent of our friends on the other side of the aisle, holy cow. Incoherence. No idea what you’re talking about.”

Ryan ended his speech by suggesting that the majority-Republican position defied logic.

“We need two political parties in this country that are both living in reality,” he said, “and you ain’t one of them.”

Felicia Sonmez and Colby Itkowitz contributed to this report.