The House voted Wednesday to create a new select committee that will investigate the deadly January 6 attack on the US Capitol, in a vote falling mostly along party lines that signals the political fight to come over the panel’s examination of the January 6 Capitol insurrection.
The House voted 222-190 to formally create the select panel. Just two Republicans joined with Democrats to support its formation — Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
Ahead of the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the floor that she was “heartbroken” Congress could not establish a bipartisan commission. Even though the speaker said she was still “hopeful” that a bipartisan commission could happen in the future, Congress had to move forward with the select committee.
“We cannot wait,” Pelosi said Wednesday. “We believe that Congress must in the spirit of bipartisanship and patriotism establish this commission. And it will be conducted with dignity with patriotism with respect for the American people, so that they can know the truth.”
Pelosi made the move to establish the committee after Senate Republicans blocked the formation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 attack.
“Our bipartisan, good-faith proposal was met with a filibuster. Now that Senate Republicans have chosen to block the formation of an independent commission, it falls to the House to stay the course and get the answers they deserve,” said House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson, who is one of the potential candidates to chair the select committee.
Republicans charged that the select committee envisioned by Democrats was merely a partisan panel that would be used to attack former President Donald Trump. Many of the Republicans who voted in favor of the bipartisan commission legislation opposed the select committee.
Republicans charged that the select committee envisioned by Democrats was merely a partisan panel that would be used to attack former President Donald Trump. While 35 Republicans voted in favor of the bipartisan commission legislation, nearly all GOP lawmakers opposed the select committee, including most of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in January.
“I supported a bipartisan independent commission. This is the opposite,” Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, the Ohio Republican who voted to impeach Trump and was the target of the former President’s rally over the weekend, told CNN before the vote.
Now the question falls to how House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will approach the new committee. McCarthy has declined to answer questions this week about who he might appoint to the committee — such as those who voted to overturn the election or have downplayed the violence on January 6 — or whether he will appoint Republicans at all.
“The speaker has never talked to me about it,” McCarthy said.
Under the House’s resolution, Pelosi will appoint eight members to the commission and McCarthy has five slots “in consultation” with Pelosi — meaning the House speaker could veto McCarthy’s selections.
Pelosi is also considering appointing a Republican among her eight selections, according to an aide. She declined to discuss who she might appoint ahead at a separate press conference Wednesday.
As members of Congress debated the select committee, officers injured during the January 6 attack listened from the gallery.
Among the US Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Department members in attendance were USCP Officer Harry Dunn, MPD Officer Michael Fanone, MPD Officer Daniel Hodges, MPD Officer Abdulkadir Abdi, MPD Officer Carlton Wilhoit III and the mother and partner of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died the day after the insurrection.
The two Republicans who backed the select committee, Kinzinger and Cheney, say they would have preferred the bipartisan commission to the House-led panel, but they argued that a thorough examination of the January 6 insurrection was necessary.
“I believe this select committee is our only remaining option. I will vote to support it,” Cheney said in a statement explaining her vote.
“As I have said, I believe a bipartisan independent commission is the best approach — and although the House was able to pass the measure, it was blocked by the Senate. Today, I voted in support of the Select Committee because the truth matters,” Kinzinger said in a statement after the vote.
If Pelosi decides to appoint a Republican to the panel, it’s likely to be either Cheney or Kinzinger.
“If I’m asked to serve on it, I’m going to consider it. I haven’t been asked,” Kinzinger told a local TV station Wednesday. “It’s not necessarily anything I look forward to doing, but if I thought my voice was needed to get to the bottom of it, it would be something I would be open to.”
Pelosi would not say if she has decided to appoint a Republican to the select committee when speaking at a news conference ahead of the vote.
“I will be making whatever statement I make about the select committee when I do and that is not right now,” she said.
The House’s select committee is expected to investigate both the security failings of the January 6 attack — when pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol and disrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s November 2020 victory — as well as the circumstances leading up to the attack. That’s likely to include an accounting of former President Donald Trump’s role spreading lies about the election being stolen, as well as some Republican lawmakers who supported efforts to overturn the election. The committee could also examine McCarthy’s conversation with Trump by phone as the attack was unfolding.
Democrats say that Republicans left them no choice to move forward with a select committee after Senate Republicans blocked the independent commission and some Republicans have downplayed the violence that occurred during the deadly January 6 attack.
Pelosi has not said who she would appoint to chair the committee, though Thompson is a possible candidate, as his committee has already been investigating the January 6 riots. Another possibility is House Administration Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, whose panel has also probed the insurrection.
McCarthy has not said whether he will appoint Republicans to the committee, or which Republicans could be named if he does so. New York Rep. John Katko, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee who negotiated the bipartisan agreement for the independent commission, criticized the select committee on Monday and said he did not envision serving on it if he was asked.
Asked Tuesday if she would consider vetoing McCarthy’s selections if they were Republicans who voted to overturn Biden’s win, Pelosi said, “We’ll see. We’ll see who they nominate.”
This story has been updated with additional developments on Wednesday.