Determined to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday introduced legislation to form a select committee for that purpose. Republicans could have had equal representation and veto power over subpoenas on a bipartisan independent commission, but they killed it in the Senate—so when they scream about the select committee being partisan, which they will, they will be whining about a situation they created.
Pelosi opened her statement on the plan for a select committee by pointing to that reality, saying, “Sadly, as of last week, there remains no prospect for additional votes from Republican Senators to create the National Commission to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol Complex.” In the Republican filibuster, 35 Republican senators opposed to the creation of an independent investigatory commission defeated 48 Democrats and six Republicans in favor of it (with 11 senators not voting). That means four Republicans would have been required to vote in favor, and that kind of movement just wasn’t happening over Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s opposition.
But the need to understand the attack on the Capitol—what happened on Jan. 6 and leading up to it—outweighs Republican fear that the knowledge will make Republicans look bad.
”January 6th was one of the darkest days in our nation’s history,” Pelosi said in her statement. “It is imperative that we establish the truth of that day and ensure such an attack cannot again happen. The Select Committee will investigate and report upon the facts and causes of the attack and report recommendations for preventing any future assault.”
She continued, “Senate Republicans did Mitch McConnell a ‘personal favor’ rather than their patriotic duty and voted against the bipartisan commission negotiated by Democrats and Republicans. But Democrats are determined to find the truth.”
The select committee will have 13 members, eight of them appointed by Pelosi and five “after consultation with” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. The Democratic chair would have subpoena power, unlike in the Republican-defeated proposal for an independent commission, where the Democratic chair and Republican vice-chair would have had to agree on subpoenas.
Pelosi is reportedly considering including a Republican among her eight choices, with names floated including Rep. Liz Cheney, who was booted from Republican leadership over her insistence on Donald Trump’s responsibility for the events of Jan. 6, and Rep. John Katko, who negotiated the bipartisan compromise legislation for an independent commission. Katko, though, is outraged that the select committee will have more Democrats than Republicans. He apparently doesn’t believe that Republican refusal to embrace an independent investigation should have consequences.
By contrast, a spokesperson for Rep. Adam Kinzinger, another Republican Trump critic, said, “The Congressman has said that he thinks a bipartisan approach is required to have a full accounting of what happened and who played a part in the insurrection at the Capitol Complex on Jan. 6. He does not want an investigation to turn political; he just wants to get to the truth and for the American people to have full transparency. That being said, our party blocked that first opportunity and now we need answers. Whether Congressman Kinzinger serves on the Select Committee is up to Speaker Pelosi.”
Republicans will have to face another consequence of their obstruction of an independent commission: While the commission would have been tasked with finishing its investigation by the end of 2021, a select committee will likely go on longer, i.e. into the 2022 midterm election year. That’s directly because of Republican obstruction, Pelosi noted Monday. “Well (the commission) had December 31st, but then all this time has gone by since then so that date wouldn’t be realistic,” she told reporters. The House voted to create the commission on May 19, and Republicans filibustered it in the Senate on May 28. Democrats then spent some time trying to line up more Senate Republican support before concluding that wasn’t going to happen.
The House is expected to vote on the legislation to create a select committee this week. It’s about time—and Democrats should move quickly from now on.