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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Launches Select Committee To Probe Jan. 6 Insurrection

Nearly a month after Senate Republicans blocked a move to vote on an outside commission to probe the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she'll move forward with plans to launch a select committee to take over the probe.

Pelosi shared the news in a press conference on Thursday at which she blasted Republicans for preventing a bipartisan commission from moving forward.

"This morning, with great solemnity and sadness, I am announcing that the House will be establishing a select committee on the Jan. 6 insurrection," Pelosi said. "Jan. 6 was one of the darkest days in our nation's history ... 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."

Last month, the Senate fell a few votes short to move forward on a floor debate to take up bipartisan legislation to establish an independent commission to investigate the insurrection. It marked Senate Republicans' first filibuster since President Biden took office.

That final May 28 vote was 54 to 35, with six Republicans voting with Democrats. Another, Pennsylvania GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, said he would have voted yes but was out of town. But the effort needed 60 votes to begin debate on the plan.

The legislation was modeled after the commission established in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, with a panel of commissioners divvied up evenly between the parties and bipartisan subpoena power.

Pelosi had signaled that if the Senate could not get the commission approved, she could move ahead with a select committee. Earlier in May, the House approved the plan by a vote of 252 to 175, with 35 Republicans joining Democrats in that case.

The legislation followed a bipartisan deal reached by the top Democrat and Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and John Katko, R-N.Y.

Former President Donald Trump has been a key critic in the efforts, calling on Republicans to reject the commission plan before top leaders and a majority of the party in both chambers followed through by voting against it.

The select committee will join several probes already underway, from law enforcement investigations being led by the FBI to multiple congressional committee investigations to those led by inspector generals for several agencies, including the Capitol Police watchdog.

It will also face challenges seen by other previous select committees, such one formed by Republicans to look into the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi. It marks a much more partisan route, and it's unclear what role Republicans will play, but it's likely they will look to be spoilers for the panel.

The speaker did not name the chair of the panel or the Democratic lawmakers she plans to tape for the select committee. Asked about Republican participation in the panel, Pelosi said about House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, "I hope that Kevin will appoint responsible people to the committee."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: June 24, 2021 at 12:00 AM EDT
A previous version of this story incorrectly said the House approved the Jan. 6 commission bill by a vote of 252 to 127. It was actually 252 to 175.
Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.