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Lawmakers Reach Deal On Bipartisan Commission To Address Capitol Security


It's a big day for Congress and its efforts to address security in the wake of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Four months after the insurrection, House lawmakers have reached a deal to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the deadly riot and recommend charges - and recommend changes to help protect the complex. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson and the panel's top Republican, New York Congressman John Katko, announced legislation that's modeled on the 9/11 Commission. House Democrats have also rolled out a much-anticipated $1.9 billion plan to boost security at the Capitol. NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales is now here with the details. And, Claudia, let's start with the commission itself in terms of what it might look like and, more importantly, who will be on it.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Yes. This will be a 10-member panel with half of the commissioners picked by Democrats and the other half by Republicans. They'll have subpoena power by the top political appointees, so that's bipartisan as well. And the panel would issue their findings and recommendations by the end of the year, so December 31. And this is a major breakthrough after months of partisan squabbles that stalled the talks out, and now they're moving quickly. And when we compare it to that 9/11 Commission, it was created more than a year after that attack, and the report was issued more than three years later.

CORNISH: Now, that wasn't all that happened. I mean, tell us about the House Democrats' spending plan for this.

GRISALES: Yeah. So they have a $1.9 billion proposal. A massive share of that is more than $700 million to reimburse the National Guard and other agencies that responded to the riot that day. And this also includes cost to prosecute these insurrectionists now. And it would create a quick reaction force to respond to emergencies in the future for Capitol Police, and it would divert $21 million to the House sergeant at arms to boost personal security for lawmakers who are facing heightened threats now.

It would also harden windows and doors at the Capitol, add new enclosed security entrances and cameras, and it would improve training and resources for Capitol Police. This is part of a larger effort to transform the agency from one that is a reactive police force to one playing more of a protective role. But unlike the commission, we don't know if this has any bipartisan support yet.

CORNISH: It took a while for this all to come together. What's your sense of what's next in the process?

GRISALES: So the House will vote on both of these next week, and Democrats are confident their party alone can pass these. And at least the commission for now is expected to draw some Republican support, but it may not be many. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other GOP members have said they want the commission's scope to be broader. They want it to include another deadly attack at the Capitol last month that left an officer dead and the racial justice protests from last year. But that said, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who was ousted from her leadership role this week, has been pushing for this focus to remain on the insurrection. But we've also heard Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell raise this issue. He wants it to be broader, so we're not sure what's going to happen there. That's a real moving target right now.

CORNISH: That's NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales. Thanks so much.

GRISALES: Thanks much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.