Rep. Chris Smith (R-Hamilton) was one of 35 Republicans who crossed party lines in support of a forming an independent commission to probe the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, with New Jersey’s other Republican congressman, Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis) voting no.
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The House passed the bill to establish the National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex by a 252-175. The measure now heads to the U.S. Senate.
“Remember this vote,” said Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown). “Remember the 175 members who voted against this. We can never take our democracy for granted.”
In February, Smith was one of eleven Republicans to vote to strip Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) of her committee posts for promoting conspiracy theories and calling on top Democratic leaders to be executed.
Van Drew voted to allow Greene to retain her committee assignments.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) slammed Van Drew for his vote.
“The January 6th insurrection was an incredibly dark day for American democracy, but Rep. Van Drew would rather whitewash the deadly events than pursue the truth,” said DCCC spokesperson James Singer. “Tonight’s vote is the latest sign that Van Drew doesn’t believe his constituents deserve to know the truth about what happened on January 6th and only cares about toeing the line for Kevin McCarthy and Donald Trump.”
Saily Avelenda, the executive director of the Democratic State Committee, was also sharply critical of Van Drew.
“Just like he has done over and over again, Jeff Van Drew has chosen to stand with the most radical, dangerous elements of the Republican Party over protecting the rule of law and the health of our democracy,” she said. “It’s sickening that Van Drew won’t even support a full investigation into the attack on the U.S. Capitol that resulted in the death of a New Jersey native in Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, choosing instead to protect the QAnon freaks, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and assorted white supremacists who stormed the Capitol.”
Avelenda called the vote a “disgrace” and said it was “another reminder of how critical it is for people in the 2nd District and throughout the state to rise up against Traitor Van Drew and throw him out of Congress in 2022.”
“Without adequately confronting what occurred on January 6th and holding those involved accountable, we will never be able to heal and move forward as a nation,” said Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair). “I hope the commission leaves no stone unturned in the pursuit of justice and efforts to spur broader national action.”
Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York) slammed Republican House members who voted against creating the commission for basing” their ideals on lies and misinformation and are determined to blur the line between fiction and reality.”
“If we are to move forward from this tragic event and begin to restore our democracy, a full-fledged investigation is necessary to uncover all appropriate facts, repair all mistakes, and ensure that this threat to democracy can never occur again,” said Sires.
Sherrill criticized the decision of some Members of Congress to “obstruct a full accounting of what happened.”
“Their opposition to this commission is exactly why we need it,” She said. “It is important to note that this attack was only one example of the crisis of domestic extremism our country is experiencing.”
Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) said the commission would help prevent similar attacks from happening in the future.
“The organized mob attack on the Capitol, which injured scores of police officers who valiantly fought to protect the people working inside, was unprecedented in our history,” said Malinowski. “The commission backed by a bipartisan majority in the House today will help us to understand what led to the January 6 violence and to make sure it never happens again.”
A Democrat challenging Van Drew said the congressman’s vote was “shameful.”
“As a 27-year veteran of law enforcement, I was extremely troubled watching those brave officers risk their lives to protect our great democracy. We need to come together to get to the bottom of the events of the insurrection to ensure accountability and that this never happens again,” said Alexander. “Van Drew’s decision to once again put partisanship over country is a betrayal to our district, the officers who defended the Capitol that day, and the oath he swore when he took office.”
Updated at 8:08 PM with comment from Malinowski and Singer and at 9:04 PM with comment from Avelenda and Alexander.