WASHINGTON, D.C. (KXAN) — With Thursday marking one year since the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol, the House Select Committee continues to investigate the events that transpired Jan. 6, 2021 and the security measure upgrades implemented as a result.
One year ago, swarms of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol, breaking through barriers and making their way to congressional chambers. Just moments before, Congress had gathered for a joint session to formally certify the results of the November 2020 election, confirming President-Elect Joe Biden as the winner.
Five people died during the riot, while four officers from varying departments who responded to the riot died by suicide in the days and months following.
On Wednesday, members of the Senate Rules Committee convened and hosted an oversight hearing to revisit the Capitol Police Department’s response during the Jan. 6 riot, as well as departmental changes made in its wake.
“January 6 exposed critical deficiencies with operational planning, intelligence, staffing, and equipment,” Chief J. Tom Manger said in a statement to members of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee on Wednesday. “I’m pleased to report that we have addressed a significant portion of the many recommendations issued to the department.”
This comes after the Rules Committee teamed up with the Senate Homeland Committee in June and issued a bipartisan report on recommended police reform measures for the national capital’s department. Manger said all recommendations have been or are in the process of implementation, including a search for a Capitol Police director of intelligence and an increase in hired officers.
But the effort to look into the events that led up to, and followed, the Jan. 6 riot has not been unilaterally supported by all.
Last spring, the Senate brought forth for consideration a bill to establish an independent inquiry to investigate the Capitol Hill riot. U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn each voted against establishing the January 6 Commission to investigate the insurrection. That proposal died, with the majority voting against the effort in a 54-35 vote.
In a May 24 interview with CNN, Cornyn criticized “political purposes” behind the commission as reason to vote against it.
“The process has been hijacked for political purposes. And I think that’s a shame,” he said, instead suggesting Congress investigate.
His stance came three months after a February tweet in which Cornyn recommended a 9/11-type external commission investigate the riot.
On May 28, Cruz released a statement outlining his decision to vote against the commission. He noted multiple investigations already in the works related to the riot, and referred to the January 6 Commission as “politically motivated.”
“The January 6 terrorist attack on the Capitol was a dark moment in our nation’s history, and I fully support the ongoing law enforcement investigations into anyone involved. Everyone who attacked the Capitol must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and brought to justice. I also support the Senate committees of jurisdiction who are exercising their proper oversight roles to provide an in-depth and complete account of the attack. With multiple investigations already underway, I do not support the politically motivated January 6 Commission led by Sen. Schumer and Speaker Pelosi.”
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz
The Select Committee, subsequently established last summer, outlined its role as a body, in part:
“To investigate and report upon the facts, circumstances, and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex (hereafter referred to as the “domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol”) and relating to the interference with the peaceful transfer of power, including facts and causes relating to the preparedness and response of the United States Capitol Police and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies in the National Capital Region and other instrumentalities of government, as well as the influencing factors that fomented such an attack on American representative democracy while engaged in a constitutional process.”
Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol
During Wednesday’s hearing, Sen. Amy Klobuchar — who serves as chairwoman of the Rules Committee — commended steps taken by the Capitol Police but stressed the need for more action to come via the Select Committee.
“While today we will discuss the steps that have been taken and the work that lies ahead to ensure the security of our nation’s capital, there must also be more done to safeguard the future of our very democracy,” she said. “I continue to support the work of the House Select Committee to bring the underlying causes of the insurrection to light to hold people accountable for what happened.”
Beyond Capitol Hill, Texas political experts also noted the influence last January’s riot had on state politics. Jim Henson, director of The Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, said Jan. 6 exacerbated deep political divides already prevalent in state governance.
His sentiments come as a recent poll conducted by Axios-Momentive found that more than half of Americans surveyed said they anticipate an event similar to Jan. 6 will happen again in the coming years. When broken down by party affiliation, 70% of Democrats agreed with this sentiment, compared to 47% of Republicans, the survey reported.
“One of the effects of the Jan. 6 insurrection is that, you know, it’s deepened the partisan polarization that we’ve seen in the state,” he said. “You know, it’s a very high stakes issue political leaders, and thus, their followers, are having a hard time finding common ground on. There really is very little common ground on this.”