Image Credits: Kevin Lamarque/REUTERS/Newscom.
One of the most ignoble lists in existence is the one that details the House Republicans who voted to challenge the certified 2020 Electoral College results for Pennsylvania and/or Arizona after the January 6 invasion of the Capitol had been cleared. The list has 147 names.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi won’t say if she’ll allow anyone on the list to serve on the select committee investigating the coup attempt, “We’ll see. We’ll see who they nominate.” She has the right to veto such an appointment, but it won’t necessarily be an easy decision.
The committee will include 8 members selected by Pelosi and five more selected in “consultation” with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
On Thursday, she announced her picks which included one Republican.
Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee
Zoe Lofgren of California, chairwoman of the House Administration Committee
Adam Schiff of California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee
Pete Aguilar of California, member of the House Administration Committee
Stephanie Murphy of Florida, member of the Armed Services Committee
Jamie Raskin of Maryland, member of the House Administration and Judiciary committees.
Elaine Luria of Virginia, member of the Armed Services and Homeland Security committees
Liz Cheney of Wyoming
Jamie Gangel of CNN reports that McCarthy met with freshmen members of the House Republican caucus on Wednesday and warned them that they could lose their committee assignments if they accepted an invitation from Pelosi to serve on the January 6 body. Liz Cheney has already been stripped of her leadership position.
But McCarthy still has to decide who he will recommend to Pelosi. The normal and obvious thing would be to recommend chairmen of relevant committees, however three of them voted not to certify the election results of both Arizona and Pennsylvania.
Mike Rogers of Alabama, ranking member of the Armed Services Committee
Devin Nunes of California, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee
Jim Jordan of Ohio, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee
I think it’s doubtful that Pelosi would accept these members for the January 6 committee, especially Nunes and Jordan. Yet, owing to their positions, McCarthy must feel almost compelled to recommend them. John Katko of New York, the ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, presents the opposite problem. He was one of ten House Republicans, along with Liz Cheney, who voted to impeach Donald Trump for the January 6 coup attempt. Nonetheless, he was put in charge of negotiations for the a bipartisan independent commission which passed in the House only to be rejected by the Senate. Katko then voted against creating a select committee, saying, it “would be a turbo-charged partisan exercise.”
The only prospect who neither voted to impeach Trump nor to decertify the election results from Arizona and Pennsylvania is the ranking member of the House Administration Committee, Rodney Davis of Illinois. He presumably would be acceptable to both sides.
It’s possible that McCarthy won’t recommend anyone.
After Wednesday’s vote [authorizing the committee], McCarthy refused to say if he will cooperate and offer up members to serve on the committee, telling CNN, “It seems pretty political to me.” He did not respond when CNN asked if that meant he would not appoint anyone.
But that would seem to break a promise McCarthy made to DC Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone and US Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn that he was committed to taking the committee’s investigation seriously.
Nothing so far indicates that McCarthy will keep that promise. In December, he supported Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s ridiculous effort to overturn Biden’s election wins in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.He voted against certifying Arizona and Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes for Biden. He voted against impeachment. He voted against the bipartisan commission. He voted against the select committee investigation. And, as already mentioned, he approved the removal of Cheney from her leadership role and threatened freshman lawmakers’ committee assignments if they accepted an invitation from Pelosi to serve on the select committee.
Assuming he does make five recommendations, it’s possible that Pelosi will reject some or all of them on the grounds that they were complicit in the coup attempt by disingenuously questioning the election results. She could then invite “clean” Republicans to join the committee. It’s this latter scenario that has McCarthy issuing preemptive threats.
If McCarthy’s in a difficult position it’s mostly of his own making. Pelosi is only refusing to allow him any easy escape. But she also has to think about how this committee’s work will be received. She didn’t pick random people to serve, but rather members who sit on relevant committees, mostly in leadership roles. If McCarthy follows suit, it won’t be easy to reject his picks since they’d be selected following the same logic she used for her own selections.
In the end, it could be a simple as choosing between a fully-staffed committee that includes some insurrectionist-friendly Republicans and a committee staffed only by Democrats and Liz Cheney.
Although, Pelosi did check one important box by inviting Cheney herself. Having one guaranteed Republican on the committee assures it will alwayshave a quorum and be able to conduct its business.