House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Thursday put the blame squarely on Republicans as to why progress has stalled on a commission to investigate the January 6 Capitol attack.
When she initially approached Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), she said, he seemed receptive.
“When I asked him if he was serious about wanting to do this he said ‘yes, it depends on the scope,’ and I said ‘well let’s discuss that,'” she said at a press conference. “The next morning he went to the floor and just dumped all over — forgive my crudeness — the fact that we would be investigating January 6.”
She said that as recently as last week, she put out feelers to see what can be done with bipartisan support.
“Some of them have been receptive but then they’ll say ‘well, leadership doesn’t want us to do anything,'” she said of Republicans.
The process to draw up a commission has stalled, as Republicans balked at Pelosi’s initial proposal giving Democrats more commissioner slots and imbuing the commission with a broad scope to include the lead-up to the attack itself.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) shrugged off the need for a commission last weekend, saying on NBC that Congress could just investigate itself.
“The Congress itself has the capacity here to move forward,” he said. “That doesn’t mean I’m opposed to a commission, but frankly, I would believe that commission would probably be a reason to wait and not do the things that we know we need to do right now.”
Pelosi too suggested that parts of the insurrection fall under various committees’ jurisdictions. She said cryptically that there are “other paths” to completing an investigation if partisan headwinds are too strong for a bipartisan 9/11-style commission to come together.
She encouraged reporters to focus on the question of scope, and Republicans’ issues with it, as the central problem holding up the commission. McConnell has already expressed that if Democrats insist on an expanded scope potentially including former President Donald Trump and his GOP allies’ conspiracy theories that catalyzed the attack, he’ll push a focus on Black Lives Matter protesters and antifa.
If the commission were set up, the accountability question would likely force a partisan divide there too, though some — including Phil Angelides, chair of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission — have said that it’s still worth doing.
“We have to find the truth and we will,” Pelosi said. “We’re not walking away from that.”
She started to say that she was optimistic, before correcting herself — “I’m persistent,” she said instead.