The House on Wednesday voted 222-190 to establish the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, a backup option Democrats enlisted after Senate Republicans quelled the formation of a bipartisan, independent 9/11-style commission.
The resolution that was agreed to concerns only the House, so the Senate and White House have no role to weigh in, ensuring the committee will be formed. Still, it is a far cry from the commission initially envisioned and negotiated on a bipartisan basis.
The select committee is tasked with investigating and reporting on the facts and causes relating to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Speaker Nancy Pelosi will name 13 House members to the panel, five of whom would be appointed after consultation with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. The panel’s work would have no finite end date, and the Democratic-appointed chair would be able to subpoena witnesses without the minority’s approval.
Only two Republicans voted for the resolution: Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
“It is with sadness in not having a bipartisan 9/11-type Commission, with allegiance to our oath to the Constitution and with respect for the patriotism of House Members that I request your vote for the Select Committee,” Pelosi said in a “Dear Colleague” letter to members ahead of the vote.
Cheney said in a statement after the vote that the bipartisan commission “would have been the best way to address the dangerous assault on the institutions of our democracy.”
“It is right to be wary of an overtly partisan inquiry. But Congress is obligated to conduct a full investigation of the most serious attack on our Capitol since 1814,” she added.
The parameters of the select committee are materially different than the commission that was proposed by House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and ranking member John Katko, R-N.Y.
The Thompson-Katko deal would have had congressional leaders in both parties appoint 10 commissioners, providing an even split between Republicans and Democrats. Also, unlike the select committee, the commission had an end date of Dec. 31, 2021, and would have required Republican consent to issue subpoenas.
Earlier in the week, Katko said the select committee would be the “exact opposite” of the commission bill he crafted and vowed not to support it. “It’s going to be completely politicized. It’s not going to get done what needs to get done. That’s a problem,” he said Wednesday.
Minority Whip Steve Scalise’s office sent an alert Tuesday to every House GOP office informing them that leadership recommended a “no” vote on the select committee. The message noted that much has been done to address the Capitol attack, including a bipartisan, joint Senate committee report that outlined security failures; $10 million for the Architect of the Capitol to better protect the Capitol structure; and ongoing Department of Justice investigations, which have thus far yielded more than 500 arrests.
Katko said in May that Thompson made concessions to get a deal done. Despite that bipartisan product, McCarthy and his leadership team recommended a “no” vote on the commission bill. Republicans in both the Senate and House said they opposed the commission because it would be duplicative of ongoing investigative efforts and its scope was not wide enough, among other issues.
Ultimately, 35 House Republicans, including Cheney, voted to establish the commission, including all 10 GOP members who voted to impeach President Donald Trump in January for inciting the Capitol insurrection.
In the Senate, a procedural vote on the commission bill earned majority support, 54-35, but fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance. Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Rob Portman of Ohio were the only Republicans who voted to move forward on the legislation.
Pelosi invited representatives from the Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Department to sit in the speaker’s box during debate and the vote on the select committee resolution, H Res 503.
Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn and MPD Officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges attended. Gladys Sicknick — the mother of late Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died shortly after the Capitol insurrection — was in the chamber, along with Sandra Garza, the late officer’s partner.
Gladys Sicknick, Fanone and Dunn were among those who met with Republican senators ahead of the commission vote to try to persuade them to vote for it.
As the House debated the resolution, the Republican side of the aisle was largely vacant. Several Republicans are on a trip to the southern border in Texas.
Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., went up to speak with Fanone and other officers in attendance in the gallery to thank them for their service.
Fanone later moved a row back to sit with Garza and Sicknick.
Later on, after Fanone left his seat, Dunn sat by Garza and began chatting with her and Sicknick.
Sicknick sat with her arms crossed and an unwavering focus on the floor debate.
Pelosi pointed out that Sicknick, Garza and the officers were in attendance, which elicited an applause from lawmakers.
As Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, spoke on why he opposed the Jan. 6 commission bill in May, Dunn shook his head.