South Carolina's US Rep. Tom Rice Backs Jan. 6 Panel
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina — who has acknowledged his vote in favor of impeaching former President Donald Trump may cost him his seat — has yet again found himself among a small group of Republicans voting with Democrats, supporting a commission to study the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Rice on Wednesday was among 35 Republicans who voted for the panel's creation, which passed the House 252-175. The move defied the wishes of both House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump, who urged Republicans to oppose the legislation he called a “Democrat trap.”
In a statement provided to The Associated Press, Rice said he was “shocked and angered” by the violence and felt it necessary to learn from the day's events.
“As members of Congress, we took an oath to defend our democracy,” Rice said. “I believe we must fully know the facts and causes of the event in order to secure our Capitol and ensure our democracy remains intact for future generations.”
The other five Republicans in South Carolina’s House delegation — Jeff Duncan, Nancy Mace, Ralph Norman, William Timmons and Joe Wilson — voted against creating the independent commission, which Democrats have said is crucial to reckoning what happened the day a violent mob of Trump’s supporters smashed into the Capitol to try and overturn President Joe Biden’s victory.
Rice, who had long been a reliable backer of the president, has said that what he characterized as Trump’s inaction during the riot led to his impeachment vote. In January, Rice was one of only 10 Republicans to vote in support of impeaching Trump a second time, telling AP the vote may have negative ramifications on his pursuit of a sixth term and that “it hurts my heart” to have gone against the president.
That vote led to Rice's swift and unanimous censure by state GOP leaders. Several Republicans have said they will seek to primary him next year.
It's now up to the U.S. Senate to consider the Jan. 6 panel, and its fate in that chamber is uncertain.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is trying to prevent defections among his own ranks, echoing McCarthy’s opposition in a Senate floor speech Wednesday morning. Both men claimed the bill was partisan, even though membership of the proposed commission would be evenly split between the parties.
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.