Pelosi floats Democrat-led investigation of Jan. 6 as commission alternative

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday outlined multiple possibilities for a House Democratic-led investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection after Senate Republicans blocked legislation to create a bipartisan commission.

Pelosi laid out four potential alternatives during a House Democratic Caucus call following Friday’s vote in the Senate that failed to overcome a GOP filibuster against legislation that would have established a commission modeled after the one that probed the 9/11 terror attacks.

According to a source on the caucus call, the four alternatives laid out by Pelosi include allowing the Senate to vote again on the House-passed bill to create an independent commission, creating a House select committee, allowing multiple committees to continue their ongoing investigations or empowering one House committee, such as Homeland Security, to take the lead on investigating Jan. 6.

Pelosi ruled out the idea of a presidential commission that had been floated by some Democrats because it likely wouldn’t have subpoena authority or funding without a statutory change.

No final decisions have been made, and Pelosi said discussions will continue so that Democrats can establish consensus on the next steps.

In the absence of a bipartisan commission evenly split between members of both parties, establishing an investigation such as one led by a House select committee would give Democrats control of a probe of Jan. 6.

While that means Democrats would have power over subpoenas and the direction of an investigation, any partisan probe risks being dismissed by Republicans and conservative voters. Democrats could also allow a probe to extend into 2022 as both parties gear up for the midterm elections, in contrast to the commission that would have been obligated to wrap up its investigation by the end of this year.

As for who could lead a possible House select committee to investigate Jan. 6, numerous Democrats have floated senior lawmakers such as House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (Wash.), House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (Miss.), House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), Rep. Jamie Raskin (Md.), the lead House prosecutor in former President Trump‘s impeachment trial this year, and Rep. Jason Crow (Colo.), who also helped make House Democrats’ case in the impeachment trial.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), a senior member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, suggested over the weekend that President Biden should create a presidential commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

“In light of the GOP’s cowardly filibuster of a bipartisan January 6th Commission, I urge President Biden to form and appoint a Presidential Commission to fully investigate the insurrection at the United States Capitol, to identify the individuals and organizations who plotted or were involved in those violent acts, and to make recommendations to prevent such an attack from ever recurring,” Connolly said in a statement.

Other Democrats have endorsed the idea of a House select committee dedicated to investigating Jan. 6, similar to the one established last year to conduct oversight of the federal government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If Republicans won’t join us to protect our democracy, we have an obligation to do it ourselves,” said Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.), a member of the House Administration Committee.

Multiple House committees have been conducting investigations and holding oversight hearings to review the events of Jan. 6, including the House Administration, Oversight and Reform, and Appropriations committees.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Friday after Republicans voted to block the legislation to create an independent commission that “I reserve the right to force the Senate to vote on the bill again at the appropriate time.”

But there’s no indication that at least 10 GOP senators would join with Democrats to allow the legislation to move forward.

Only six Republican senators voted to advance the bill on Friday. A seventh senator, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), missed the vote but said he would have joined them.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reiterated at an event in Kentucky on Tuesday that he and other Republicans don’t think an independent bipartisan commission is necessary given ongoing law enforcement investigations of people accused of breaking into the Capitol to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s victory over Trump.

“I don’t think anybody’s going to get away with anything. I think we’ll know everything we need to know. We were all witnesses, we were right there when it happened,” McConnell said. “And I simply think the commission is not necessary.”

Via The Hill