Capitol Riots investigation canceled? House axes Kevin McCarthy’s GOP picks for probe committee

House votes 218-197 to kill Minority Leader's bid to seat five nominees on the committee, leaves GOP out of Capitol Riots investigation


                            Capitol Riots investigation canceled? House axes Kevin McCarthy’s GOP picks for probe committee
Pro-Trump supporters storm the US Capitol, an insert of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Samuel Corum/ Alex Wong/ Getty Images)

The House on July 26 voted against Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's bid to seat his five GOP picks for the Capitol Hill riots investigation. The final vote was 218-197 against, with Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger joining the Democrats in voting against the bid. The vote means the GOP is effectively locked out of the investigation, which has infuriated the GOP. 

The vote is the latest in the dramatic story of the January 6 insurrection. Since it occurred, the GOP have vehemently opposed the idea of it being "violent", or an "insurrection" while at the same time blaming Democrats for not having security that day. Since that day, over 500 people have been charged by the Justice Department (DoJ). Most Republicans are also heavily focused on Ashli Babbitt after the DoJ refused to prosecute the case. It's not all bad news though. The insurrection did give us Heather Shaner, a DC-based attorney who has been educating those charged on American history, with some positive results.

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As the DoJ continues to ensure the rioters see justice, the House is quite divided over how to react. After the GOP refused to support a special independent commission, Speaker Nancy Pelosi's select committee was the only way forward for the House to investigate the insurrection. However, it appears as if that too is doomed to fail since McCarthy isn't getting his way, and refusing to play ball.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks at a news conference on July 21, 2021, in Washington, DC (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Will the investigation be canceled?

The select committee would allow McCarthy to nominate five GOP members, alongside the eight nominated by Pelosi. The speaker rejected two of McCarthy's picks — Jim Jordan and Jim Banks — fearing they would "'jeopardize the integrity of the investigation". That appears to have angered McCarthy, who said either the two would be seated, or no one would. With the vote now out of the way, the committee is now down to just the eight members nominated by Pelosi. Does that mean it will be canceled?

Not necessarily. In fact, the committee will go ahead and investigate the insurrection without wide GOP support. Cheney and Kinzinger will be the only two Republicans on the committee and have refused to step down despite McCarthy's antics. The committee will begin hearing testimony on July 27 and has the power to subpoena others if it wants. The first people to testify will be four law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol on January 6. It's unclear as of now who else will be asked to testify, but it is possible some Congress members could be. 

The GOP isn't expected to sit quietly though. McCarthy has already threatened to launch his own investigation, but it is unclear how that would work. Most Republicans have already slammed an investigation as a "waste of time". In fact, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned that a commission would become a "purely political exercise" and would not "promote healing". Even if the GOP-led investigation doesn't go anywhere, McCarthy still has plans to keep Trump and the party happy.

Nancy Pelosi answers questions at a press conference on the establishment of a commission to investigate the events surrounding January 6 at the US Capitol on May 19, 2021, in Washington, DC ( Win McNamee/Getty Images)

McCarthy warns consequences for 'Pelosi Republicans'

On July 26, McCarthy also indicated he could punish Cheney and Kinzinger for joining the committee, and dubbed them "Pelosi Republicans". It's unclear what form that publishment would take, but it is likely to be by removing them from any committee assignments. Cheney has already been booted from House leadership, and both she and Kinzinger have made it very clear that they do not fear retaliation by the party. 

"We've got very serious business here. We have important work to do," Cheney said, and dubbed McCarthy's antics "childish". Kinzinger added that McCarthy "can call me whatever names he wants," but reassured, "I'm a Republican." He also said, "If the conference decided, or if Kevin decides, they want to punish Liz Cheney and I for getting to the bottom and telling the truth, I think that probably says more about them than it does for us." A spokesperson for Kinzinger also added, "It would speak volumes if he took away their committee assignments to 'punish them' for upholding their oath to protecting our democracy." 

Both Cheney and Kinzinger have been vocal critics of Trump, which has caused the GOP some concern. The party has attempted to unite behind the former president, but already some cracks are starting to appear. The committee could reveal more about Trump's role, and even that of some Congressional members, which would further complicate McCarthy's position ahead of the 2022 midterms.

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