House OKs Jan. 6 investigation

'We will be judged by future generations as to how we value our democracy.' - Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker


National News

July 1, 2021 - 10:06 AM

Supporters of then-President Donald Trump clash with police and security forces as people storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Photo by (Brent Stirton/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sharply split along party lines, the House launched a new investigation of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection on Wednesday, approving a special committee to probe the violent attack as police officers who were injured fighting Donald Trump’s supporters watched from the gallery above. 

The vote to form the panel was 222-190, with all but two Republicans objecting that majority Democrats would be in charge. The action came after Senate Republicans blocked creation of an independent commission that would have been evenly split between the two parties.

I try not to take these things personally, but it’s very personal for me.

Michael Fanone, a Washington Metropolitan Police Officer who was dragged down the Capitol steps by rioters who shocked him with a stun gun and beat him.

Ahead of the vote, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told lawmakers in the chamber, “We will be judged by future generations as to how we value our democracy.” She said she preferred that an independent panel lead the inquiry but Congress could wait no longer to begin a deeper look at the insurrection that was the worst attack on the Capitol in more than 200 years.

As the vote was called, Pelosi stood in the House gallery with several police officers who fought the rioters and with the family of an officer who died, hugging several of them. One of the officers, Michael Fanone of Washington’s Metropolitan Police, said he was angry at Republicans for voting against an investigation after he almost lost his life to protect them. 

“I try not to take these things personally, but it’s very personal for me,” Fanone said. 

Tensions in Congress have only worsened since the January day that Trump’s supporters laid siege, hunted for lawmakers and temporarily halted the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory. A brief sense of shared outrage has given way to partisan sniping and attempts among some Republicans to downplay the events. Most Republicans have made clear they want to move on from the insurrection — and former President Trump’s role — though many of them had fled the violent mob themselves.

Rep. Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, voted for the investigation of the Jan. 6 riots on the U.S. Capitol. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois was the only other Republican to endorse the investigation.Photo by Stefani Reynolds/CNP/Sipa USA/TNS)

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who lost her position in GOP leadership because of her criticism of Trump, was one of only two Republicans to vote for the panel. She declared, “Our nation, and the families of the brave law enforcement officers who were injured defending us or died following the attack, deserve answers.”

On Thursday, Cheney was appointed to serve on the select committee. Cheney has been outspoken in her criticism of former president Donald Trump and was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him for “incitement of insurrection.”

In a statement, Cheney said she was “honored” to have been named by Pelosi to serve on the committee.

“Congress is obligated to conduct a full investigation of the most serious attack on our Capitol since 1814. … What happened on January 6th can never happen again. Those who are responsible for the attack need to be held accountable and this select committee will fulfill that responsibility in a professional, expeditious, and non-partisan manner.”

She added: “Our oath to the Constitution, our commitment to the rule of law, and the preservation of the peaceful transfer of power must always be above partisan politics.”

Most Republicans disagreed, though few came to the House floor to make statements defending their votes. Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas said he opposed what he called “one party investigating the other,” and Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup rejected the new probe as “incomplete and insufficient” because it would not look into other incidents including the 2017 shooting at a baseball field that badly wounded GOP Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

Some Republicans opted to spend the day instead with Trump himself. More than two dozen GOP House members, including Jim Banks of Indiana, the chair of the Republican Study Committee; Ronny Jackson of Texas, the former White House physician; Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina and Lauren Boebert of Colorado joined the former president at an event at the end of the border wall in Pharr, Texas, to assail the Biden administration’s border policies. 

During the debate at the Capitol, Democrats expressed frustration with Republicans who have complained that the investigation would be partisan after their party blocked the bipartisan panel.