Senate Republicans filibustered a bipartisan independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, with 35 Republicans able to vote down 48 Democrats and six Republicans to block the investigation from going forward (11 senators did not vote). So now Democrats turn to Plan B, most likely a select committee.
“Honoring our responsibility to the Congress in which we serve and the Country which we love, Democrats will proceed to find the truth,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday, following the Senate vote. She didn’t say the words “select committee,” but in the past she has suggested as much, saying last week, as the House voted on the commission, “I certainly could call for hearings in the House, with a Majority of the Members being Democrats, with full subpoena power, with the agenda being determined by the Democrats. But that's not the path we have chosen to go.” At the time, she said “I don’t want to” have the investigation run through a House committee controlled by Democrats, but “It's a question of if they don't want to do this, we will.”
They (Republicans) didn’t want to do this (establish an independent commission), so the ball is in Pelosi’s court.
Democrats made huge concessions on the shape of an independent commission in an effort to win Republican votes, and got 35 House Republicans in addition to those six senators. They won’t have to make so many concessions on a select committee, but Republicans will fight the entire time to have it be seen as a partisan witch hunt, no matter how far Democrats bend over backward to be fair.
The thing is, if Republicans didn’t like the way an independent commission was going, they would have fought the entire time to have it be seen as a partisan witch hunt, even after appointing half of its members. That’s how they operate. So Democrats shouldn’t feel all that constrained by what Republicans are going to say, and should always, always answer any questions from reporters about perceived partisanship by beginning with, “Well, Republicans refused to allow a bipartisan independent investigation, so we went forward with the only option they left us.” And then they can get to the specifics of the question, if they so choose.
But Democrats must—they must—press forward and find out as much as possible about how the attack on the Capitol unfolded, from the earliest planning stages to the days immediately leading up to it to the attack itself to the aftermath and any cover-up attempts. That means getting to the bottom of failures to gather and respond to intelligence about what the crowd of Trump supporters was planning, how the Capitol Police were so unprepared, and why the National Guard was delayed. It includes what Donald Trump was doing during the attack. It includes what Trump told House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who has been so opposed to an investigatory commission. It includes which extremist groups were involved, and how, and how far-reaching their conspiracies were.
These questions are just the beginning of what must be answered. We saw people beating down the windows and doors of the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from certifying an election. They were explicitly trying to disrupt the peaceful transition of power. They carried Confederate flags through the seat of the U.S. government, seriously wounded and even killed police officers trying to protect the Congress, chanted about their desire to hang the vice president, broke into the speaker of the House’s office, left congressional staffers and indeed members of Congress deeply traumatized. This isn’t something that can be allowed to be brushed off, as convenient as that might be for Republicans.
We. Need. To. Know. And we need the media to report the facts, not Republican accusations that Democrats are being unfair, when Republicans and Republicans alone are responsible for the fact that there is no independent commission.
“Democrats will proceed to find the truth,” Pelosi said. Great. Proceed with all due haste, please.