Speaker Pelosi Will Establish Committee To Probe Jan. 6 Riot After Senate Republicans blocked a bill to create an outside independent commission to investigate the attacks on the U.S. Capitol, Pelosi said a special panel is needed to lead an investigation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Launches Select Committee To Probe Jan. 6 Insurrection

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1009818514/1010015508" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will launch a select committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol. The move comes nearly one month after Senate Republicans blocked a debate on a proposal to create a bipartisan 9/11-style commission.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NANCY PELOSI: It is imperative that we establish the truth of that day and ensure that an attack of that kind cannot happen and that we root out the causes of it all.

CORNISH: But key Republicans have already expressed opposition to this idea, and it's unclear how long the investigation will take. To tell us more, we're joined by NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales. And Claudia, tell us more about how this select committee would work.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Speaker Pelosi said this was a difficult decision and announcing it came with great, quote, "solemnity and sadness." But she also said she had no choice. She had already warned she might take this step, creating a select House committee, if the Senate could not pass a bill creating an outside commission. And she said this will largely be modeled on a Senate select committee that was created after the 9/11 attacks. And Pelosi said this new committee will take whatever time it takes to investigate this fully and issue recommendations. But she stopped short of detailing who will lead it and who will be on it for Democrats, and the same goes for Republicans.

CORNISH: How solid is the kind of Republican opposition to this?

GRISALES: It's pretty solid when we look at the large majorities in both chambers. This is a much more partisan route than a bipartisan commission. So Republican leaders have already slammed it, and we expect many more of their members to follow suit. For example, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said this would be, quote, "political." And he says he still wants the scope to include the racial justice protests last year. It will not. So he remains opposed. Let's take a listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KEVIN MCCARTHY: Just like in 9/11, they didn't study just what happened on 9/11; they studied what built up to it. So why wouldn't we study what built up in the summer? Why wouldn't we analyze and get to the bottom of why the National Guard were not here?

GRISALES: But we should note that that's not all Republicans. For example, we know that in the House, 35 GOP members joined Democrats to move forward with a bipartisan commission, so they could extend their support here to this select committee as well. One of those, Wyoming's Liz Cheney, told reporters earlier this week that this is a necessary next step since the commission failed and Congress needs an investigation. And she hopes that this select committee will emulate that bipartisan commission plan as much as possible.

CORNISH: So what could this committee do that other investigations haven't been able to accomplish?

GRISALES: So, as Cheney also said, this is the closest we'll get to a commission for now. So they will have subpoena power, but also it's not clear who will be on it and how Republicans who are opposed to the plan could try to play spoilers here. As an example, you could look at the role Democrats played with the select committee created by Republicans after the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi. Now, Pelosi said she hopes that McCarthy will appoint, quote, "responsible people" to the committee, but that's hard to envision how they'll fit that mold she's asking for considering how opposed he and others remain. But one thing to keep in mind is the work of this committee and the release of this panel's report could come just before the midterm election. So it's easy to see how this could become a political football.

CORNISH: That's NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales. Thank you.

GRISALES: Thank you much.

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.