WASHINGTON — Democrats in the House are pushing ahead with plans to create a committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol comprised of more Democrats than Republicans, a partisan tilt that is already sparking criticism from the GOP.
The move comes after Senate Republicans filibustered a proposal to create a bipartisan committee.
The House is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a resolution to form a select committee, but who will serve on the 13-person panel is unlikely to be revealed until after passage, including just how many Republican lawmakers will be included.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., introduced the measure Monday to establish the panel, which will consist of 13 members she appoints, including five who will be selected after "consultation" with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., who negotiated a plan to establish a bipartisan commission ultimately blocked by Senate Republicans, said Monday that he’s “very disappointed” in Democrats moving forward with the select committee.
“This is exactly what I was concerned about — that we didn’t have a balanced committee and this is what we are going to have now,” he said, adding that it seemed “politically charged.”
He pointed to his own party's repeated effort to investigate the attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi as proof that a partisan-leaning committee cannot build credibility.
"Benghazi got nowhere. Look how long it took for that," Katko said. "That was politically charged on our side of the aisle. It got nowhere."
An aide to the speaker said Pelosi is “seriously considering” appointing a Republican with one of her unilateral picks. She will also appoint the chair, who won’t be announced until sometime after the vote.
The committee, which will only include members of the House, will have the power to subpoena documents and witness testimony. The panel's purpose is limited to investigating the Jan. 6 riot, during which hundreds of supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in an attempt to interrupt the counting of electoral votes formalizing Joe Biden’s victory.
“We hope to be able to get to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said Tuesday.
There are a handful of Republicans who supported the bipartisan commission who might be considered by Pelosi to be added to the committee.
Asked if she would consider choosing Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who has been outspoken about Trump’s role in inciting the riot on Jan. 6, Pelosi told NBC News, “We will see. First we have to get the bill passed.”
Cheney said Monday night that she hadn’t spoken to Pelosi about it and said the decision is “up to the speaker.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., a staunch critic of many of his GOP colleagues who support Trump, isn’t ruling out voting for the select committee or serving on it.
“He does not want an investigation to turn political; he just wants to get to the truth and for the American people to have full transparency. That being said, our party blocked that first opportunity and now we need answers,” Kinzinger spokeswoman Maura Gillespie said. “Whether Congressman Kinzinger serves on the Select Committee is up to Speaker Pelosi.”
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., voiced frustration with the process, saying Tuesday at a GOP leadership press conference that Pelosi should be using House committees that already exist to investigate the Jan. 6 attack.
“I think even the Senate is taking the approach of having some of their standing committees look into it,” he said. “Speaker Pelosi ought to be exercising that same ability, not going down a partisan route.”