House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday she is considering establishing a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 breach on the Capitol if the plan to create a 9/11-style commission fails to win over bipartisan support.
“The one thing among our members that is consistent is—we must find the truth,” she told USA Today in an interview. Adding that while she would prefer the independent panel to carry out the investigation of why security failings happened on Jan. 6, answers could also be found by the select committee.
“It’s always an option,” she said. “It’s not my preference in any way. My preference would be to have a commission.” But GOP members oppose the speaker’s proposal on the structure of her 9/11-style commission because it gives more power to Democrats.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he is against the partisan nature of the speaker’s proposal.
“She cites the precedent of the 9/11 Commission, but her draft fails to track with that precedent in key ways. The 9/11 Commission was intentionally built to be bipartisan. The 50/50 bipartisan split of the commissioners was a key feature,” said McConnell during a speech on Feb. 24.
McConnell said to gain the public’s confidence in the findings of the commission, it needs the same authority and representation as the two party’s members on the panel.
“This time however Speaker Pelosi started by proposing a commission that would be partisan by design—seven appointments for Democrats, just 4 for Republicans. The 9/11 Commission also built consensus by requiring bipartisan support for subpoenas. The speaker’s bill would vest subpoena power in one appointee chosen by the Democrats,” McConnell continued.
He said there is consensus that an investigation must be conducted. “Everyone agrees that today’s events must occasion a serious and thorough review of the specific institutions and security procedures within Congress that proved so insufficient,” McConnell said.
Pelosi’s office did not immediately return a request for comment on the structure of the commission.
The leaders of the 9/11 Commission, Republican Tom Kean and Democrat Lee Hamilton have both spoken about the need for equal representation of the two parties on the Jan. 6 commission, to enable public confidence and support for the work the panel would do.
Democrat co-chair of the 9/11 Commission, Hamilton said the speaker’s proposal for the Jan. 6 commission, “sounds like a partisan beginning.”
Republican co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Tom Kean spoke to NPR on Feb. 19 about what can be done to investigate the Capitol breach.
“So the question is, how are you going to find out what happened? And you set up a commission that has the confidence of the people,” Kean said during an interview with NPR. “People understood that we were not doing it from a Republican point of view. We weren’t doing it from a Democratic point of view. We were doing it in the nation’s point of view. And you’ve got to have people who’ll put country first, ahead of party,” Kean added.
Meanwhile, members of the GOP have been critical of what they say is a double standard by Democrats in downplaying the riots that have occurred since the spring of 2020 as “peaceful protests” while playing up the Jan. 6 event as a “domestic terrorist attack” and an “insurrection.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, in February, alleged that Democrats were exploiting the Jan. 6 incident and using security concerns as an excuse to paint a large part of the Republican base as dangerous.
“Let’s be clear, this is not about security at this point, this is about political theater,” Cruz said. “Half the country, the ‘deplorables,’ are dangerous, and [Democrats are] going to turn the Capitol into a military outpost in Baghdad just to have the compliant media echo that message,” he added, referring to the enhanced security measures around the Capitol like barbed wire fencing.
McConnell questioned the speaker’s motivation for establishing the 9/11 style commission and the purpose of the partisan investigation her commission would undertake.
“It sets the stage for a somewhat broader inquiry into domestic violent extremism, beyond just that day. But the partisan panel wouldn’t get to decide which other incidents are and are not relevant. Rioting and political violence are abhorrent and unacceptable, no matter what cause the mob is advancing,” said McConnell.
“If Congress is going to attempt some broader analysis of toxic political violence across the country,” McConnell said, “then, in that case, we cannot have artificial cherry-picking of which terrible behavior does, and which terrible behavior does not deserve scrutiny.”
“We could do something narrow that looks at the Capitol, or we could potentially do something broader to analyze the full scope of political violence here in our country,” McConnell said, adding, “We cannot land at some artificial, politicized, halfway point.”
Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.