House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that she will soon appoint a select committee with subpoena powers to investigate the January 6 Capitol riot, a move that seemed likely after Senate Republicans blocked a House-authorized independent commission. The new panel will take over Capitol-riot investigations from the standing House committees that have been nosing around in the debris from that historic debacle.
Pelosi’s move came with a definite more-in-sadness-than-in-anger tone as she said, “This morning, with great solemnity and sadness, I’m announcing that the House will be establishing a select committee on the January 6 insurrection.”
The select committee has to be authorized by the full House, which shouldn’t be a problem. Unless they boycott it, House Republicans will be participants in its work but in a subordinate role. Pelosi has not indicated who will chair the panel.
Comparisons are already being made to the select committee Republicans formed in 2012 to investigate the killing of Americans in Benghazi, Libya. Part of the new panel’s responsibility will be to avoid the appearance of a partisan fishing trip that the Benghazi inquest undeniably created, particularly after House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy boasted that it had been designed to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects and had succeeded in that aim.
At least one prominent Republican has backed Pelosi’s move: former House Republican Conference chairperson Liz Cheney, who was recently ejected from her leadership position for her outspokenness about January 6 and the role of the 45th president in the assault on the Capitol.
It’s unclear at this point what the Senate will do to maintain its own involvement in the Capitol riot investigations. But Republican hopes that memories of the whole scandalous incident will just fade away are already being dashed by the criminal proceedings the Justice Department is taking against insurrectionists, which will take time to conclude.