McCarthy has ‘no’ regrets opposing Jan. 6 independent commission

GOP leader opposes select committee as well

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says said much has already been done to address the Jan. 6 insurrection. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says said much has already been done to address the Jan. 6 insurrection. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted June 25, 2021 at 3:00pm

With Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to create a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy is confronted with an inherently more partisan examination of the Capitol attack than one he and other Republican leaders helped torpedo. But he says he has no regrets.

“No, none whatsoever,” McCarthy said Friday of whether the select committee announcement gave him any pause on opposing an independent 9/11-style commission that one of his own colleagues helped negotiate. He did not answer a question about whom he would appoint to the select committee and said he has not been briefed by Pelosi on the panel.

Nancy Pelosi has spent all the time and all these months playing politics with this, and now we’re finding [the] select committee will be more politics of what she wants to do,” the California Republican said. “The FBI is the appropriate place to investigate.”

A Pelosi spokesperson said McCarthy had his chance to take the politics out of the probe.

“The Speaker’s strong preference was to create a bipartisan outside commission. Leader McCarthy was given repeated concessions and still opposed the commission. The Minority Leader is in no position to criticize this effort,” the spokesperson said.

McCarthy admitted on Fox News in 2015 that his conference put together the Select Committee on Benghazi, in part, to hurt Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers.

McCarthy said much has been done to address Jan. 6, including a bipartisan, joint Senate committee report that outlines security failures; an influx of $10 million to the Architect of the Capitol to better protect the Capitol structure; and ongoing Department of Justice investigations, which so far have yielded more than 500 arrests.

In May, McCarthy opposed a deal that was struck between Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and ranking member John Katko, R-N.Y., to establish a commission to investigate Jan. 6.

Katko acknowledged that Thompson made concessions to strike an agreement, but it wasn’t enough for McCarthy and others in House Republican leadership to endorse the measure, which garnered 35 House Republican votes. Despite bipartisan support, the 9/11-style commission failed to overcome procedural hurdles in the Senate.

Republican leaders have said they are opposed to the 9/11-style commission because it would be duplicative of ongoing investigative efforts by congressional committees and the Department of Justice and that the scope is not wide enough, among other qualms.

Unlike the independent commission proposal, Democrats will have control of the select committee, including its subpoena power. Select committees are created by a resolution to conduct investigations or consider specific topics. The House will consider such a resolution next week to establish the select committee to examine Jan. 6, according to an announcement from Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.

“Jan. 6 was one of the darkest days in our nation’s history, and so 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,” Pelosi said at her news conference Thursday announcing the committee.

The Thompson/Katko deal would have issued a final report by Dec. 31, 2021, with findings on the facts and causes of the attack and recommendations to prevent future attacks. It was structured to have subpoena power that would require agreement between the chair and vice chair or a majority vote of the 10-member commission. Commissioners would have been appointed by congressional leaders and would be equally split: five Republicans and five Democrats.

Katherine Tully-McManus contributed to this report.