Voices of Republican courage: Michigan Reps. Fred Upton and Peter Meijer want Jan. 6 inquiry

May 20, 2021, 6:07 PM by  Alan Stamm

Unlike 175 party colleagues, Michigan Republican Reps. Peter Meijer and Fred Upton support a federal inquiry into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. They joined all House Democrats in voting for a bipartisan commission to investigate the insurrection.

These five other Republicans in Michigan's U.S. House delegation voted against a bipartisan investigation: Jack Bergman, Bill Huizenga, John Moolenaar, Tim Walberg and Lisa McClain. The measure passed 252-175, with 35 Republicans strengthening the majority.

Reps. Fred Upton and Peter Meijer break party ranks again.

Bergman, Walberg and McClain also voted on the losing side that first week of January. After evacuated representatives returned to the cleared Capitol, they dissented in the House's 303-121 vote to accept Electoral College votes won by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. 

In contrast, Upton and Meijer were among 10 Republicans who voted a week later in favor of impeaching Donald Trump. Upton, 68, represents a Kalamazoo-based district and his 33-year-old colleague was elected last November in the Grand Rapids and Battle Creek areas. 

The proposed 10-member inquiry commission "will be charged with studying the facts and circumstances of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol as well as the influencing factors that may have provoked the attack on our democracy," the legislation says. It could subpoena witnesses and documents.

The bill needs support from at least 10 Republican senators for final passage. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the party leader there, opposes an investigation as unfairly partisan -- though the commission would have five Republicans and five Democrats.The bill's language was negotiated partly by Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y. 

On late-night TV, Jimmy Fallon mocked Wednesday's dissenters: "Not only did 175 Republicans vote against the commission, they also want to make Jan. 6 'Bring your insane rioter to work day.'"

Upton, serving his 14th term, and newcomer Meijer explained their votes in brief floor speeches. Here's what each said:

Meijer: 'This is not picking at a scab'

"I rise today to express my strongest support for a bill to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the disgraceful January 6th attack on this institution.

"Let us be clear: the imperative to have a public, objective, fact-based investigation of the Capitol attack is not a partisan issue, and it should never be treated as such. A violent mob breached this building to disrupt the lawful presidential transition and threaten the lives of Vice President Pence and members of Congress.

"That this mob attacked the Capitol with the encouragement of prominent elected officials is a chilling reminder of President Reagan’s warning that 'freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.'

"Unfortunately, many who rightly criticized and condemned the January 6th attack have walked back their words or softened their speech. More troubling, there has been an active effort to whitewash and rewrite the shameful events of that day to avoid accountability and turn away from difficult truths.

"If we avoid confronting what happened here just a few short months ago, we can be sure that intimidation, coercion and violence will become a defining feature of our politics for generations to come.

"On the evening of January 6th, as I was walking back to the Capitol after it was cleared of rioters, I received a text message from a constituent who asserted: 'Those who stormed the Capitol today are true American heroes. This election was a fraud, and you know that's true.'

"He then warned: 'You can bet there will be more to come and blood on Congress' hands if you let this stand.'

"I refuse to accept this possibility, this abrogation of our sacred obligation to this Republic. There is no replacement for an independent bipartisan commission with a mandate to produce a definitive report to the public to clear away myths and fictions and get right on the facts.

"This is not picking at a scab. In order to scab over, a cut has to heal. Rather than start to mend, the wound from January 6th was hastily bandaged and continues to fester. Only by airing it out and addressing what occurred can we hope to move past and heal as a nation.

“I applaud my friend Congressman John Katko for his good-faith, bipartisan leadership to put this commission in place. I supported this effort back in January, and I support it today. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in supporting this important bipartisan legislation."

Upton: 'Let the truth shine in'

"January 6th is going to haunt this institution for a long, long time. No, it was not a joyous day on Capitol Hill, with our constituents celebrating the start of a new Congress and a new administration.

"Covid came first and then this. So nearly five months later, we still don't have the answers to the basic questions. Who knew what when? What did they do about it?

"I want to thank my colleagues, [Republican John Katko] and [Democrat Bennie] Thompson, for the really good job on working together to establish a bipartisan commission, seeking to find the answers to the questions that are still out there.

"You know hundreds of people were arrested, people died, millions of dollars of damage to this building, feces spread on the walls. And, yes, the very core of democracy -- this institution -- was threatened.

"You know I was not in the chamber that day and when the breach was attempted, but I heard the shouts, saw the flash bangs, smelled the gas on that sorry day. And if it had not been for the brave Capitol and Metropolitan Police men and women that day, who knows how many of our heads would have been swinging on those gallows that were constructed on the east front of the Capitol?

"I talked to the exhausted SWAT team members, the police, and [I] watched some of the body cams. I talked to some of our still-shaken colleagues who endured that day. We need the answers, not political rhetoric. That's what this bipartisan commission can provide for all of us, for our country. Let the truth shine in."


Stamm: Never Forget What Michigan Reps. Bergman, McClain, Walberg Did on a Day of Chaos, Jan. 7

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