House to Vote on Creating Jan. 6 Select Committee
The measure creates a 13-member investigative panel with subpoena power. Eight members are to be named by Democrats and five with input from Republicans.,
Over G.O.P. opposition, the House forms a committee to investigate the Capitol riot.
- June 30, 2021, 8:21 a.m. ET
The House voted mostly along party lines on Wednesday to create a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, pushing ahead over Republican opposition with an inquiry into security failures and the origins of the deadliest attack on Congress in centuries.
Under a plan devised by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the 13-member panel will be dominated by Democrats, with eight members to be named by the majority party and five with input from Republicans. The select committee, which will have subpoena power, will investigate “the facts, circumstances and causes relating to the Jan. 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack” by a pro-Trump mob, according to its organizing resolution.
The measure passed 222 to 190, with only two Republicans joining the Democrats to support it.
“We have the duty, to the Constitution and the country, to find the truth of the Jan. 6 insurrection and to ensure that such an assault on our democracy cannot happen again,” Ms. Pelosi wrote in a letter to all House members on Wednesday. “It is clear that Jan. 6 was not simply an attack on a building, but an attack on our very democracy.”
In her letter, Ms. Pelosi said the committee was necessary because Senate Republicans, at the urging of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, had blocked the formation of an independent, bipartisan inquiry into the assault, leaving Congress with “no prospect for a commission at this time.”
Several officers who were injured in the attack were on hand to watch the vote from Ms. Pelosi’s box in the House gallery. They included Harry Dunn of the Capitol Police and two District of Columbia police officers: Michael Fanone, who has lobbied Republicans to support an investigation, and Daniel Hodges, who was crushed in a door during the rampage. Relatives of Brian Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer who died after clashing with the rioters, joined them.
While the measure says that five members of the panel are to be named “after consultation with the minority leader,” Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, Mr. McCarthy has not said whether he will recommend anyone. Last week, he told police officers injured in the riot that he would take the appointment process seriously.
One of Ms. Pelosi’s aides said she was considering picking a Republican who has acknowledged the gravity of the attack for one of her eight slots. Many have speculated that she might select Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a former member of House Republican leadership who was removed from her post after she pushed the party to hold itself and former President Donald J. Trump responsible for fomenting the riot with false claims that the 2020 election had been stolen.
Ms. Cheney, one of only 35 House Republicans who voted this month to create an independent commission, also broke with her party on Wednesday to vote in favor of forming the select committee.
“I believe this select committee is our only remaining option,” she said in a statement. “The committee should issue and enforce subpoenas promptly, hire skilled counsel, and do its job thoroughly and expeditiously.”
Only one other Republican, Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump, supported the investigation.
House Republicans voted on May 12 to oust Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming from their leadership ranks for her refusal to stay quiet about President Donald J. Trump’s election lies.
- Backlash to Impeachment Vote: In January, Ms. Cheney issued a stinging statement announcing that she would vote to impeach Mr. Trump. In the statement, which drove a fissure through her party, she said that there had “never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States” than Mr. Trump’s incitement of a mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6. She was among 10 Republicans who voted to impeach him. A group of Mr. Trump’s most strident allies in the House called on her to resign from her leadership post.
- Leadership Challenge: In February, Ms. Cheney fended off a challenge to strip her of her leadership position in a secret ballot vote. Even as a majority of House Republicans opposed impeaching Mr. Trump, most were not prepared to punish one of their top leaders for doing so — at least not under a blanket of anonymity.
- Censure: Ms. Cheney also faced opposition from the Wyoming Republican Party, which censured her and demanded she resign. Ms. Cheney rejected those calls and urged Republicans to be “the party of truth.”
- New Challenge: Ms. Cheney continued her blunt condemnation of Mr. Trump and her party’s role in spreading the false election claims that inspired the Jan. 6 attack, prompting a new push to oust her from her leadership role. This time, the effort was backed by Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader.
- Removal: Ms. Cheney framed her expulsion as a turning point for her party and declared in an extraordinary speech that she would not sit by quietly as Republicans abandoned the rule of law. She embraced her downfall and offered herself as a cautionary tale in what she is portraying as a battle for the soul of the Republican Party. The removal came by voice vote during a brief but raucous closed-door meeting in an auditorium on Capitol Hill.
- Impact and Analysis: What began as a battle over the party’s future after the violent end to the Trump presidency has collapsed into a one-sided pile-on by Team Trump against critics like Ms. Cheney, a scion of a storied Republican family. The episode, a remarkable takedown that reflected the party’s intolerance for dissent and unswerving fealty to the former president, has called attention to internal party divisions between more mainstream and conservative factions about how to win back the House in 2022.
- Successor: On May 14, House Republicans elected Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, a vocal defender of Mr. Trump, as their No. 3 leader. Ms. Stefanik pledged to maintain a focus “on unity” as conference chair, but she has also drawn criticism from some hard-right Republicans who have questioned her conservative bona fides.
The rest of the party lined up in opposition to the panel, which their leaders insisted would be a partisan forum for attacking Mr. Trump and kneecapping Republicans in the 2022 elections.
Representative Michelle Fischbach, Republican of Minnesota, argued that the committee would duplicate existing investigations and engage in “partisan, divisive politics.”
“We gave you bipartisan,” Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts, responded, referring to the proposed independent inquiry, which would have had an equal number of Democrat- and Republican-appointed members. “Give me a break. This is clear: They don’t want to get to the truth.”