The No. The No. 2 House Republican will not say whether his caucus members will support or participate in a proposed select commission to investigate Jan. 6’s insurrection at Capitol.
When asked Tuesday if Republicans would be on the panel, Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise said that he couldn’t answer the question. He told reporters at a press conference that he didn’t know if Republicans would vote to create the committee and that they’d wait to see what happens. That vote is scheduled for Wednesday.
Scalise’s hesitation comes at a time when Kevin McCarthy, House Republican leader, is under pressure to investigate the incident seriously. This pressure comes from Democrats, police officers involved in the attack and some of his fellow Republicans. Pelosi would have eight members of the committee, while McCarthy would have five.
The investigation and the selection of the panel members could determine whether the committee is a bipartisan endeavor or a hotbed for division. While two Senate committees released a bipartisan report earlier in the month with security recommendations, it didn’t examine the source of the siege and left many questions about the day.
On Jan. 6, hundreds of Trump supporters broke into the building, hunting for lawmakers. They disrupted the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory by brutally beating and pushing past police officers. McCarthy met with Harry Dunn and Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, the Capitol Police Officer, on Friday to ask him to seriously investigate the House investigation.
Fanone has told of being dragged down Capitol steps by rioters, who beat him with a stun gun. He also said that he had asked McCarthy to promise not to place “the wrong people on the panel.” This refers to members of the GOP who downplay violence and defend the insurrectionists. Fanone claimed McCarthy assured him that he would consider his request.
McCarthy’s office didn’t respond to our requests for comment.
Senator Mitt Romney (Republican from Utah) has publicly pressed McCarthy. He said on Sunday that he hoped McCarthy would appoint people who were credible.
Pelosi has moved to create the committee after Senate Republicans blockedan impartial, bipartisan panel which would have been modeled on the 9/11 commission. Although she stated that it was her preference for an independent panel to lead the inquiry, Congress couldn’t wait to take a closer look at the insurrection. She has yet to say who will be leading it.
According to a Pelosi aide, the speaker may consider including a Republican in her appointments. This would increase the likelihood of a 7-6 partisan split. An aide to Pelosi was allowed anonymity to discuss her thoughts.
Many Republicans are concerned about a partisan investigation, as majority Democrats will likely investigate Trump’s involvement in the siege and right-wing groups involved. Nearly three dozen House Republicans voted for legislation to establish an independent commission last month. This would have seen a partisan split between members. Seven Republicans in Congress supported the bill’s advancement, but it was not passed by the 10 Senate Republicans that would have been required to do so.
Although Trump is not mentioned in the House resolution that created the new panel, it directs the committee to investigate “facts and circumstances and causes” of the attack on the United States Capitol Complex, January 6, 2021. The panel will also examine “influencing factors” that led to such an attack on American representative democracy, while engaging in a constitutional process.
Pelosi stated that the select committee could complement an independent panel and that she was still hopeful that there would be one. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has indicated that he may hold a second vote but it’s not clear that any GOP votes have changed.
Many Republicans are clear that they want to move past the Jan. 6 attack. They have brushed aside many unanswered queries about the insurrection, such as how law enforcement and government missed intelligence leading to the rioting, and Trump’s role before and after the insurrection.
Some Republicans went further than that, with Rep. Andrew Clyde from Georgia suggesting that video of the rioters looked more like a “tourist visitor” and Rep. Paul Gosar, Arizona insisting that Ashli Babbitt (a Trump supporter) was “executed.” Others have supported the rioters, even though they were charged with federal crimes.
Fanone and Dunn met with McCarthy to ask the GOP leader to denounce McCarthy’s comments downplaying violence. Fanone and Dunn also asked 21 Republicans who voted against awarding medals of honour to the U.S. Capitol Police or the Metropolitan Police to publicly thank them for their services. Several officers who responded sustained injuries including brain injuries, chemical burns and broken bones.
McCarthy, who voted in favor of the measure, said that he would discuss it privately with those who were not able to vote. Fanone, who called Clyde’s comments about tourists “disgusting”, said that he wasn’t satisfied with the response.
Babbitt, along with three other Trump supporters, were among the seven people who died in and around the rioting. In the days that followed, two police officers committed suicide and another officer, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick fell and died later after engaging in protests. Later, a medical examiner determined that he had died from natural causes.