House Votes For Jan. 6 Select Committee
Updated: Jul 1, 2021
Democrats went with Plan B Wednesday, and voted en masse to create a House select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, launching a more partisan probe of the insurrection after Republicans blocked a bipartisan alternative.
Only two Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), aligned with Democrats in the 222 to 190 vote.
Although 35 Republicans in the House voted in May for legislation to create a bipartisan commission, it failed in the Senate after former President Trump and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell lobbied against it, and only a handful of Republicans there were willing to support it.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded by advancing an investigation that Republicans could not block.
"Now it's almost, what, four and a half weeks, and we must go forward," Pelosi said Wednesday before the nearly party-line vote. "It does not appear at this time that we can have a bipartisan commission... Hopefully that could still happen, but in the meantime, we will have a select committee."
Pelosi turned at one point to the House gallery to applaud officers from the Capitol and D.C. Metropolitan Police departments who attended in support of creating the committee. She appeared to choke up in hailing the mother of Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after fending off Capitol invaders.
"Every member here knows that Jan. 6 was an attempt to subvert our democracy," Pelosi said, arguing that even though Republicans agree with her, they simply won't admit it, and oppose any meaningful probe because it might put former President -- and them -- in a bad light.
"They refused to admit the truth when they voted against certifying the president, President Biden's election, that night. They refused to admit the truth when they voted against the creating of a bipartisan commission to investigate the attack," Pelosi said. "They refuse to admit the truth when they call that day a normal tourist visit. And today, when many will vote against establishing a select committee to investigate that day, they will again refuse to admit the truth."
Republicans argued that the new committee is not only partisan, but unnecessary because not only are other congressional committees looking into aspects of the uprising, but police and prosecutors are still investigating and have arrested more than 500 people.
"We need to spend our time finding solutions and helping Americans, not creating partisan commissions to do work that has already been done competently by the U.S. Senate, and by law enforcement," said freshman Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-Minn.), who led the debate for Republicans.
Several Democrats pointed out that there were seven investigations of the sacking of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, before Republicans created a select committee for that.
Only three other Republicans were willing to come to the floor besides Fischbach, however, to make their case -- a fact that was not lost on the Democrats' floor leader, Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern.
"I've noticed that there are a lack of Republicans who have the backbone to come down here and explain to the American people why they won't support the bipartisan commission or this select commission -- because they don't want to be on record as defending a position aimed at not getting to the truth," McGovern said. "It's stunning to me."
When Democrats had compromised with some Republicans to create the earlier proposed commission, they had agreed to keep it divided evenly and to end the investigation this year so it would not run into the 2022 political season.
There is no such timeline on the select committee, although Pelosi is expected to name the Democratic members swiftly.
New York Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said Republicans will have to live with the results.
"They have chosen the most corrupt president in American history over the peaceful transfer of power," Jeffries said. "But truth crushed to the ground will rise again, and we will uncover the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, whether you like it or not."