WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is ruling out a presidential commission to study the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, telling House Democrats on Tuesday that having President Joe Biden appoint a panel is unworkable even after the Senate blocked an independent probe last week.
Pelosi laid out possible next steps after Friday’s Senate vote, in which Senate Republicans blocked legislation to create an independent, bipartisan panel to investigate the siege by former President Donald Trump’s supporters. She proposed four options for an investigation of the attack, according to a person on the private Democratic caucus call who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss 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 forward with the bill, and a seventh missed the vote but said he would have backed it. That means Democrats would only need support from three additional Republicans to reach the 60 votes needed for passage. The commission would be modeled after a highly respected panel that investigated the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The other options involve the House investigating the attack, meaning the probes would be inherently partisan. Pelosi suggested that she could appoint a new select committee to investigate the siege or give the responsibility to a single committee, like the House Homeland Security panel, which wrote the original bipartisan bill to create the commission. Alternately, Pelosi said committees could simply push ahead with the investigations that are already underway.
But the speaker said she believed a commission appointed by Biden — an idea pitched by some in her caucus after Friday’s Senate vote — was “not a workable idea in this circumstance.” It is unclear why she holds that view.
Pelosi’s comments come as members of both parties have pushed for a deep dive into the insurrection, which was designed to interrupt 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 by police as she tried to break into the House chamber while lawmakers were still inside. The rioters brutally beat police and broke in through windows and doors as they hunted for lawmakers and called for Trump’s defeat to be overturned.
The White House has not yet said whether Biden would appoint a commission without Congress, but some Democrats urged him to take that step.
“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,” said Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly in a statement.
It’s uncertain whether the Senate would hold another vote on the commission and whether any additional Republicans would support it. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., left open the possibility of a second attempt, saying after the vote that “the events of Jan. 6 will be investigated.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., opposes the commission, saying he believes the panel would be partisan even though it would be divided evenly between the two parties. Trump opposes the commission as well, calling it a “Democrat trap.”
Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press