According to legislation released by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a new committee to investigate the Jan. 6 insurgency at the United States Capitol would have 13 members and the authority to subpoena witnesses. The bill is expected to be voted on in the House this week.
The effort comes after Senate Republicans blocked the formation of an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the attack, in which hundreds of supporters of former President Donald Trump violently broke into the Capitol and disrupted President Joe Biden’s victory certification.
Pelosi would appoint eight members to the new partisan House panel, with five appointed “after consultation with” Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. According to a Pelosi aide, the speaker is considering appointing a Republican, bringing the likely partisan split to 7-6. The aide was granted anonymity in order to discuss her thoughts.
Many Republicans were concerned about such a partisan investigation, because the majority Democrats are likely to look into Trump’s role in the siege and the right-wing groups that were present. Almost three dozen House Republicans voted in favor of forming an independent panel with an even partisan split. Seven Republicans in the Senate backed moving forward on the bill, but that was short of the ten Senate Republicans needed to pass it.
According to Pelosi’s legislation, the new select committee would have subpoena power and no set deadline. As the investigation proceeds, the panel may issue interim reports.
Last month, the House passed legislation to establish an independent commission, and Pelosi, D-Calif., stated that she preferred an independent panel to lead the investigation. However, she stated last week that Congress could not wait any longer to begin a more in-depth investigation of the insurgency, so she would form the select panel. She has not stated who will be in charge.
Nonetheless, Pelosi stated that the select committee could be useful in supplementing an independent panel, if one is ever formed, and that she is “hopeful there could be a commission at some point.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has indicated that a second vote may be held, but there is no indication that any Republican votes have changed.
Many Republicans have stated their desire to move on from the Jan. 6 attack, dismissing the many unanswered questions about the insurgency, such as how the government and law enforcement missed intelligence leading up to the rioting and Trump’s role before and during the insurgency.
Others in the GOP have gone even further, with one saying the rioters resembled tourists and another claiming that a Trump supporter named Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed while attempting to break into the House chamber, was “executed.”
Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone and Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who fought the rioters, have been lobbying Republicans to support an independent commission and met with McCarthy on Friday. Following that, they stated that they had asked McCarthy to condemn GOP comments downplaying the violence.
In the absence of an independent commission, Fanone stated that he asked McCarthy for a commitment not to appoint “the wrong people” to the new select panel, and McCarthy responded that he would take it seriously. McCarthy’s office did not respond to requests for comment on the meeting or the legislation establishing the select committee.
The officers also asked McCarthy to condemn 21 Republicans who voted earlier this month against awarding medals of honor to the U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department in recognition of their service on Jan. 6. Several officers were injured, including chemical burns, brain injuries, and broken bones.
McCarthy, who voted in favor of the bill, told them he would deal with those lawmakers privately.
Seven people died as a result of the rioting and its aftermath, including Babbitt and three other Trump supporters who died as a result of medical emergencies. In the days that followed, two police officers committed suicide, and a third officer, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, collapsed and later died after engaging with the protesters. He died of natural causes, according to a medical examiner.