Congressman Cliff Bentz talks with officers from the Capitol police after insurrectionists were cleared from the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6. Bentz condemned the intrustion. (Office of U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz)

In a surprising move, U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Oregon, last week joined 34 fellow Republicans to back proposal to create an independent commission to probe the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The House voted 252-175 on Wednesday, May 19, to create the commission but the legislation faces a tough road in the U.S. Senate where Democrats need to sway at least 10 Republican lawmakers to reach the 60-vote ceiling for passage of the bill. Four-fifths of House Republican lawmakers opposed the legislation. Bentz said in a statement that he voted to create the commission because “I had already voted twice for just such a commission.”

“Additionally, I have repeatedly called out for a bipartisan investigation. I have consistently and strongly condemned those who broke into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6,” said Bentz.

The proposed legislation is divisive. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, the Senate minority leader, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-California, the House minority leader, oppose the proposal.

Bentz has a close relationship with McCarthy, who campaigned for the Ontario attorney in last year’s election.

Advocates of the legislation say it is necessary to identify why the violent attack occurred and consider whether statements by then-President Trump sparked the insurgency.

Opponents believe the commission is a waste of time as there are already several independent investigations, including one by the FBI, focused on the uprising, the proposal isn’t bipartisan and the probe will take too long with no promise of firm results.

As proposed, the 10-person commission appointed by both Democrats and Republicans would investigate the riot and deliver its conclusions Dec. 31.

Bentz said he first floated the idea of a national commission to investigate the insurgency in January.

Back then, he said, he backed legislation for a national commission crafted by Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Illinois.

“House Democrats repeatedly blocked consideration of that bill on a party-line vote, and, until now, House Democrats have pursed partisan investigations intended to blame Republicans and the former president for events of Jan. 6,” said Bentz.

Bentz said “no one disputes that our Capitol must be protected.”

“I believe, as my previous votes illustrate, that this is a serious matter and one that requires bipartisan congressional attention,” said Bentz.

Bentz said the commission would be part of a necessary process “as we continue to learn from the past and move forward.”

“Our system of democracy demands that our laws be enforced,” said Bentz.

Bentz was elected in November to his current position and represents Oregon’s 2nd Congressional district.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

Previous coverage:

Bentz's effort to dump one state's presidential results rested on 10,000 votes never counted

Local lawmakers speak out about attempt by rioters to seize U.S. Capitol building

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