Brown, Ryan, Portman Pledge Committee Resources to Investigate Capitol Siege

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – U.S Sen. Sherrod Brown says the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which he is poised to lead, can have a huge impact on addressing the major issues in the country, including those underlying the unrest that led to events such as Wednesday’s invasion of the U.S. Capitol.

Brown fielded questions for more than an hour Friday, two days after the assault on the Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump who continue to reject his loss in the 2020 presidential election. 

Brown, D-Ohio, was elected in 2006 and is the ranking Democrat on the Senate banking committee. Following twin Democrat victories in Georgia’s special election, he is positioned to take over as committee chairman.

The committee’s first priority is to make sure an imminent wave of evictions doesn’t happen, Brown said. Even before the pandemic, a quarter of renters spent more than half their income on rent, making the chance of eviction high if they have an unanticipated expense such as car repairs or a medical issue.

“The banking committee can make a huge difference in income inequality, and structural racism and in climate – the great moral issues of our time,” he said.  

Brown also called for holding to account those responsible for the invasion of the U.S. Capitol, from active participants to those who encouraged the chaos, including President Trump. Any leniency for those involved, whom he characterized as “traitors,” is unacceptable, Brown said.

“Everyone who participated must be held accountable,” Brown said. “That includes the seditionists that invaded our Capitol, who tried to stop our electoral process, who threatened the lives of workers and journalists and members of Congress.”

It also includes Trump, who urged supporters to go to the Capitol in remarks during a rally Wednesday and who for weeks has cast doubts, without evidence, on the legitimacy of the election results, Brown said. The senator reiterated his call for Vice President Mike Pence and members of the Trump cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office.

“The president must not be allowed to do any more damage, even for the next 12 days,” Brown said. “A huge number of Americans, including high-ranked Republicans over the years in lots of different jobs, are very concerned about what the president might do in the next 12 days.” 

Should Pence and the Cabinet not take action, Brown supports impeaching Trump. 

According to news reports, House Democrats plan to introduce articles of impeachment as early as Monday. 

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, issued a statement Friday announcing that he and U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., who lead the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Sens. Roy Blunt , R-Mo., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., leaders of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, plan to hold hearings and conduct joint oversight of security failures resulting in Wednesday’s siege on the Capitol.

Asked later whether he supports impeachment of Trump or a 25th Amendment removal of the president from office, Portman sidestepped the question.

“Last night, the president finally acknowledged there will be an orderly transition of power on Jan. 20, something i had called on him to do,” he said in an email. “Now is the time to bring our polarized nation together and ensure an orderly transition of power in 12 days. I look forward to working with the Biden administration on issues the American people care about.”

Also Friday, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, chairman of the legislative branch subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, said members are working across committee jurisdictions to determine the structure for investigating the security failures that led to Wednesday’s siege.

“We don’t have anything firm to put forward yet but we have a general sketch of what it’s going to look like,” he said. 

That work is taking place as security measures are put in place for Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. Fencing that cannot be climbed has gone up, attendance is going to be limited, and there will be a “tremendous show of force,” Ryan said.

“We are going to have a peaceful transition of power. All the stuff we heard was going to be happening the other day is absolutely going to be happening now and a hell of a lot more,” he said.   

Ryan reiterated his support for invoking the 25th Amendment and impeachment. 

“We’ve got to be clear that Trump’s behavior was appalling, wrong, incendiary, and led to a lot of the violence,” he said. 

He pointed out that Trump is being repudiated across the political spectrum. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have already resigned, the National Association of Manufacturers supported invoking the 25th Amendment and the conservative Wall Street Journal called on Trump to resign. 

Meanwhile, more community and political organizations issued public statements Friday that rebuked Trump and how the mob that stormed the Capitol was handled by law enforcement.

Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past, which educates students about the civil rights movement, joined the calls for Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment. 

Sojourn echoed concerns raised by Brown, Ryan and others regarding the differences in preparation and treatment between Wednesday’s protesters and those who protested racial injustice last year. 

“What we saw displayed on full view for the world to see was White privilege and supremacy, which is evident by the glaring difference between the police response to the mostly White hoodlums and thugs – who were using violence to achieve their ends – and what we can more than reasonably infer their response would have been had these folks, who breached the U.S. Capitol, been Black,” the organization said. 

“So why were more riot-geared police on hand to guard a statue of President Abraham Lincoln during a [Black Lives Matter] rally than were on the steps of the Capitol in advance of what most of us knew would happen?” the statement continued. “Once the insurrection began, the police did not stop the insurrectionists as they pushed their way into the Capitol and walked through the complex for hours. Only later was the National Guard activated. Why wasn’t every thug, who broke into the Capitol, ransacking the buildings, injuring Capitol police not arrested?”

Common Cause Ohio, an organization dedicated to accountability for public officials, called on U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, and four other Ohio GOP House members, to resign for rejecting election results Wednesday and spreading disinformation about the integrity of the election. Common Cause said it would explore other options for holding them accountable, including expulsion and ethics committee investigations. 

“In our democracy, voters decide who wins elections,” said Executive Director Catherine Turcer. The five Ohioans “failed to follow the Constitution and their oath of office this week by voting to overturn the will of the people. They have proved they cannot carry out the duties of their offices in our democratic republic and must immediately resign.”

Pictured: Violent protesters, loyal to President Donald Trump, storm the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.