WASHINGTON >> House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rules out presidential commission to study the Jan.6 insurgency on Capitol Hill, telling House Democrats today that President Joe Biden’s appointment of a panel is impractical even after the Senate blocked an independent investigation last week.
Pelosi outlined possible next steps after Friday’s Senate vote, in which Senate Republicans blocked legislation to create an independent bipartisan panel to investigate the seat of supporters of former President Donald Trump. She offered four options for an investigation into the attack, according to a person from the Democratic Caucus private appeal who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the internal conversations.
The first option, Pelosi said, is to give the Senate another chance to vote on the commission. Six Republicans voted with Democrats to move the bill forward, and a seventh missed the vote but said he would have supported it. This means Democrats would only need the support of three more Republicans to achieve the 60 votes needed for the passage. The commission would draw inspiration from a well-respected panel that investigated the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The other options involve the House investigating the attack, meaning the investigations would be inherently partisan. Pelosi suggested she could appoint a new select committee to investigate the siege or hand responsibility to a single committee, such as the House Homeland Security panel, which drafted the original bipartisan bill to create the commission. Alternatively, Pelosi said the committees could simply continue with their own investigations which are already underway.
But the speaker said she believed a commission appointed by Biden – an idea put forward by some in her caucus after Friday’s Senate vote – was “not a feasible idea under these circumstances” because Congress would have to. still approve the money and subpoena authority for the panel.
Pelosi’s comments come as members of both parties pushed for a deep dive into the insurgency, which aimed to halt the presidential electoral count and was the worst attack on Congress in two centuries. Four rioters died in the attack, including a woman who was shot dead by police as she attempted to break into the House chamber while lawmakers were still inside. Rioters brutally beat police and stormed through windows and doors as they searched for lawmakers and called for the overturning of Trump’s defeat.
The White House has yet to say whether Biden will try to appoint a committee without Congress. White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Friday that “the president has made it clear that the shameful events of January 6 must be the subject of an independent and thorough investigation” and that he remained attached to it.
“We will continue to work with Congress to find a way forward to make this happen,” she said.
After the Senate vote, some Democrats urged Biden to act alone.
“In light of the GOP’s cowardly obstruction of a Jan. 6 bipartisan commission, I urge President Biden to form and appoint a presidential commission to fully investigate the insurgency on the U.S. Capitol, to identify the individuals and organizations that plotted or were involved in these acts of violence and make recommendations to prevent such an attack from happening again, ”Virginia Representative Gerry Connolly said in a statement over the weekend .
It is uncertain whether the Senate would hold another vote on the committee and whether other Republicans would support it. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., left open the possibility of a second attempt, saying after the vote that “the events of January 6 will be investigated.”
Senatorial Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Opposes the commission, saying he believes the panel would be partisan even if it is split evenly between the two parties. McConnell’s criticism came after Trump opposed it and called the legislation a “Democratic trap.”
Still, six members of McConnell’s caucus challenged him, arguing that an independent look was needed, and Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey would have raised the total to seven without a family commitment, his office said. Republicans who voted to advance the bill were Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Rob Portman of Ohio and Mitt Romney of Utah.
The House passed the bill in May, with 35 Republicans voting with Democrats to pass it.