Arizona’s Democrats back creating House panel to study Jan. 6 riot; GOP opposes – The Arizona Republic

Arizona’s House delegation voted along party lines on Wednesday to create a Democratic-dominated panel to examine the origins of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The measure passed 222-190 with notably less backing from Republicans than a proposal in May to create a bipartisan commission. The initial idea stalled when Senate Republicans blocked a vote on it using the filibuster.

Instead, the House of Representatives will form a 13-member committee, with eight of its members picked solely by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. It is an alternative Pelosi and Democrats hoped to avoid as they called for understanding and accountability over the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol.

In May, 35 Republicans voted to create the bipartisan commission. On Wednesday, only two, Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., voted to do so.

The panel’s task will be to examine the facts and causes of an event described by the House as a “domestic terrorist attack,” from how social media helped bring together those who attacked the Capitol to how law enforcement failed to prepare for the assault. 

Republicans scarcely participated in a debate largely hashed out more than a month earlier over an issue they view as grist for Democrats seeking to blame the GOP for the melee. 

Arizona’s nine-member delegation voted the same way they did in May on the bipartisan commission: All five Democratic members supported the plan for a select committee; all four Republicans opposed it.

Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., said Congress needed an investigation like the one after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“The events of January 6 merit a full and complete investigation, and the fact that the Senate was unable to pass a bipartisan 9/11-style commission is unacceptable,” he said in a statement. “While this commission is not the non-partisan procedure we had advocated for, we must ensure this investigation is executed in a bipartisan manner and offers clear, fact-based, and unquestionable findings.”

Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., said the committee has a straightforward task: find the truth.

“The Select Committee approved today will follow the facts where they lead: into the causes behind this violent attack, how our intelligence-gathering and counter-terrorism efforts failed so catastrophically, and what we need to do to prevent any future attacks on our seat of government,” he said in a tweet.

Today, the House voted to form a Select Committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

My full statement: pic.twitter.com/K3IpHhgSJh

— Rep. Greg Stanton (@RepGregStanton) June 30, 2021

“Americans deserve answers; January 6th was more than just a deadly attack on our Capitol — it was an assault on our very democracy,” said Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., in a statement. “As Members of Congress, we have an urgent and sacred duty to uncover the truth of that terrible day. That is why, with solemnity and patriotism, I voted to establish a Select Committee to investigate the insurrection and ensure that such an attack can never happen again.”

In May, Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., who heads the conservative House Freedom Caucus that includes all of the state’s GOP members, cast the bipartisan commission as a political stunt by Democrats to smear Republicans. He noted it didn’t include a broader review of the social unrest that included spasms of violence in 2020.

On Wednesday, Biggs said there already have been multiple hearings on the attack and criminal investigations, and it is a distraction from Democrats’ failing agenda. 

“The reason it’s bogus is because they assign all the staff,” he said in a video after his vote. “They get to go forward and they have a predetermined outcome of what they want to do.” 

The historic invasion by people trying to avert Congress certifying President Joe Biden’s victory over former President Donald Trump played out on national television. But its fallout has remained less clear. 

More than 140 police officers were injured and five people died in the aftermath of the attack, including a Capitol police officer. But his death by strokes, initially viewed as the result of his efforts on that day, was ruled due to natural causes in April.  

GOP members have sought to recast the attack, with some such as Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., suggesting a woman shot and killed by a police officer was “murdered” as she climbed through a barricaded door. Another member described the day as like “a normal tourist visit.”

Reach the reporter Ronald J. Hansen at ronald.hansen@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-4493. Follow him on Twitter @ronaldjhansen.

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