WASHINGTON — Rep. Lee Zeldin on Wednesday cast the only no vote by the Long Island congressional delegation on a bill creating a 9/11-type commission to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol.
The bipartisan 1/6 Commission bill passed with the votes of all Democrats and 35 Republicans, including Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport), despite the Republican leaders of the House and Senate coming out against it.
The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it faces a hard road after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday he opposes the "slanted and unbalanced" bipartisan commission a day after former President Donald Trump called it a "Democratic trap."
Zeldin, a staunch Trump supporter from Shirley running for the Republican nomination for New York governor, said in a statement that most Republicans have condemned the Jan. 6 violence, bipartisan congressional investigations are underway, the Justice Department has arrested more than 400 suspects and the Architect of the Capitol is working to improve security.
"The duties of the proposed commission are already being carried out, but Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi wants to politicize this issue and distract from her party’s disastrous policies that are depressing the workforce and slowing economic growth," Zeldin said.
But Garbarino and Long Island’s three Democrats voted for the commission proposed by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and New York Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus).
"What happened at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th was unAmerican and a direct attack on our democracy. At that time, I promised to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that what happened that day would never happen again in our country," Garbarino said.
"This commission is a step in that direction by enabling an investigation to provide better-informed recommendations to ensure the government is fully equipped to counter and prevent attacks of this nature from occurring in the future," he said in a statement.
During the floor debate, Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) argued that the commission would report the facts and recommendations to prevent future attacks and warned against Republican revisionist history.
"Let us be clear: January 6th was an act of domestic terrorism. An armed mob of insurrectionists stormed the Capitol intending to murder the Speaker, the vice president and members of Congress," she said.
"We cannot let our friends on the other side of the aisle whitewash the events of that day," Rice said. "We cannot let them gaslight the American people by calling the 6th an ‘ordinary tourist visit.’"
Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) recalled the horror. "I was in the House Chamber on January 6th. I heard the deadly gunshot, saw the windows being broken in, and saw insurrectionists handcuffed on the ground," he said in a statement.
"We must get to the bottom of what happened on January 6th," Suozzi said, "and I’m confident this commission will do just that in a fair, bipartisan way."
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), who represents a slice of Nassau County, also voted for the bill.
The final vote was 252 to 175. New York’s eight Republicans split on the measure, four voting for and four against the commission.