The House will vote Wednesday on the creation of a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, with D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone—who was badly injured by the Trump mob—in attendance at the vote after weeks of lobbying Republicans to do the right thing, and in some cases being treated with shocking contempt.
After the vote, the real drama starts with the selection of members of the committee. The select committee will have 13 members, eight of them chosen by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and five chosen “after consultation with” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. While Pelosi may choose a Republican for one of her eight slots, McCarthy’s ideas could be truly appalling, sparking a major fight during the “consultation” period and (intentionally) giving Republicans more to howl about.
Republican howling is absolutely guaranteed, of course. Senate Republicans filibustered a bipartisan independent commission, and now Republicans are already saying that a select committee will not be legitimate because it’s partisan.
To recap, so it’s absolutely clear: Republicans blocked a bipartisan option and then objected to a partisan one. Because they do not want an investigation of the Capitol insurrection. Because they know it would make them look bad and might be a problem for the 2022 elections.
Party over country, always, for this Republican Party.
Pelosi has confirmed that she could block McCarthy’s choices from the select committee, and with Republican outrage factories like Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene hoping to be chosen, she may have to do that to avoid the whole thing turning into a total circus. But the options for Republicans who won’t turn it into a circus are limited, if that’s even a goal for McCarthy: Out of 200 Republicans in the House, 139 voted against certifying the election.
Even many of the 35 House Republicans who voted to establish an independent commission to investigate Jan. 6 are joining in the whining about a select committee being too partisan—and, of course, they’re holding Democrats responsible for that rather than their fellow Republicans for killing the independent commission to begin with.
“I don’t know if the public is going to have confidence when the rules of the game are skewed the way they are,” said Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, which supported an independent commission. Hey, my dude, you know how the public could have more confidence? If Republicans supported an investigation in good faith, whether through an independent commission or by participating in a select committee in a way not intended to turn it into a circus.
Democrats are not interested in indulging Republican nonsense—they just want to make sure the attack on the Capitol gets investigated.
”When we know that the Republicans are going to act out in the way that they do, I don't like rewarding them by saying, ‘Oh, we're gonna just not do things,’” said Rep. Andy Kim.
And Democrats will do things to the best of their ability despite what Republicans try. But some Democrats are definitely urging Pelosi to block the worst of the worst from joining the committee, if McCarthy tries to add a Gaetz or Greene. “The issue is that … there are indications that some of these folks were in on it. And we can't have folks who were in on it in the investigation,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The big question for Wednesday is how many Republicans will vote for a select committee at all. After that, as the members are chosen, we’ll find out just how committed to sabotage McCarthy is, and how far Pelosi will indulge him.