Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday she would create a new committee to investigate what she said are “many questions” about the events leading up to the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, and the federal response to that day.
“This morning, with great solemnity and sadness, I’m announcing that the House will be establishing a select committee on the Jan. 6 insurrection,” Pelosi said, adding that the committee will look into both the “root causes” of the storming of the Capitol, as well as broader security concerns for the complex.
“It is imperative that we seek the truth of what happened,” Pelosi said.
Democrats are moving to create the panel four weeks after Senate Republicans blocked a bipartisan effort to establish an independent commission. Pelosi said she still preferred a bipartisan approach, resembling Congress’s probe into the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but said she had no indication Senate Republicans could be persuaded to ever agree to that tack.
Pelosi did not disclose who would lead the commission, saying she would “make those announcements later.” Several of her members, including House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn have privately pushed for Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who seems to be the caucus favorite with few other names circulating.
Thompson told POLITICO Wednesday the path for the investigation was ultimately the speaker’s decision but noted his committee has “dealt with domestic terrorism for a long time.”
The select committee will consolidate the House’s several ongoing investigations into Jan. 6, which includes panels such as the Homeland Security Committee and the House Oversight Committee.
Besides who will lead the group, one of the biggest questions over the development of the select committee is whether Republicans will take part in the panel by appointing members — and, if so, who they would pick.
Some Democrats privately fear that Republicans would give the perch to flame-throwing members, such as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a scenario they say would further inflame partisan tensions over the Jan. 6 attack.
It’s not clear how House Republican leaders will respond to Pelosi’s plans. If they do appoint members, however, it is unlikely Jordan would have a starring role, since he is already the top Republican on Democrats’ select committee on the coronavirus response, according to several people familiar with the discussions.
McCarthy has largely brushed off Democrats’ calls for a select committee.
“Unfortunately, the speaker has played politics on this, time and again,” McCarthy told reporters on Wednesday. “If it’s all political, why would we participate?”
Pelosi, while acknowledging that members were worried about who Republicans would appoint, said she had no intention of “walking away from our responsibility.”
The goal of the committee, many Democrats say, is to keep its work from devolving into a hyper-partisan brawl. They want to avoid the political chaos of the GOP’s select committee to investigate the 2012 attacks in the Libyan city of Benghazi when they held the majority.
“I hope that Kevin will appoint responsible people to the committee,” Pelosi said, referring to Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.
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