Republicans are suddenly caught between a rock and a hard place as desperately try to block the creation of an independent panel to investigate the Capitol attack of Jan. 6. And no matter what they do, they lose.
While derailing the commission would satisfy the Republicans’ short-term objective of appeasing former President Donald Trump, this strategy is bound to fail as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will certainly launch a special investigation of her own — one that could play to the long-term advantage of Democrats heading into the 2022 midterms.
Not only would a select committee allow the majority Democrats to steer the process, including decisions surrounding the issuance of subpoenas. It would also empower Pelosi to extend the investigation well into next year, heightening the political potency of its findings ahead of elections when control of both chambers is up for grabs and Republicans are eyeing a return to power.
Now, some GOP lawmakers are realizing how deep in the hole they are and are pressing for the approval of the commission.
Stephanie Bice, one of the House Republicans who voted in favor of the commission, argues that “Without the commission, where conservatives are guaranteed an equal voice, Democrats like Rep. Jerry Nadler, Rep. Adam Schiff and Speaker Pelosi will be driving the narrative in a Dem-led investigation just like they’ve done in the past.”
Yet Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) are opposing it, saying the House proposal, which passed last week with help from 35 Republicans, is “slanted and unbalanced.”
Only two Senate Republicans have come out in support of the House legislation: Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), both of whom had voted to convict Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 attack during his impeachment trial in February.
To Pelosi’s advantage, the commission issue is not controversial among Democrats. And with some allies on the Republican side, Pelosi has the upper hand, with or without Republicans.
No matter how you slice it, Republicans cannot escape January 6 and Pelosi will make sure to stick that label to their foreheads.