US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has rejected two Republicans tapped by House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy to sit on a committee investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection, a decision the Republican denounced as “an egregious abuse of power”.
McCarthy said the GOP won’t participate in the investigation if Democrats won’t accept the members he appointed.
Pelosi cited the “integrity” of the probe in refusing to accept the appointments of Indiana’s Jim Banks, picked by McCarthy to be the top Republican on the panel, or Ohio’s Jim Jordan.
The two men are outspoken allies of former president Donald Trump, whose supporters laid siege to the Capitol that day and interrupted the certification of President Joe Biden’s win. Both of them voted to overturn the election results in the hours after the siege.
Democrats have said the investigation will go on whether the Republicans participate or not, as Pelosi has already appointed eight of the 13 members – including Republican Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a Trump critic – and that gives them a bipartisan quorum to proceed, according to committee rules.
Pelosi said she had spoken with McCarthy and told him that she would reject the two names.
“With respect for the integrity of the investigation, with an insistence on the truth and with concern about statements made and actions taken by these members, I must reject the recommendations of Representatives Banks and Jordan to the Select Committee,” Pelosi said in a statement.
Pelosi has the authority to approve or reject members, per committee rules, though she acknowledged her move was unusual. She said “the unprecedented nature of January 6th demands this unprecedented decision.”
McCarthy said Pelosi’s move will damage the institution of Congress.
“Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republican nominees, Republicans will not be party to their sham process and will instead pursue our own investigation of the facts,” McCarthy said.
It is unclear how McCarthy would lead a separate investigation, as the minority does not have the power to set up committees. He said the panel has lost “all legitimacy” because Pelosi wouldn’t allow the Republicans to name their own members.
Most in the GOP have remained loyal to Trump despite the violent insurrection of his supporters that sent many lawmakers running for their lives. McCarthy wouldn’t say for weeks whether Republicans would even participate in the probe, but he sent the five names to Pelosi on Monday.
Pelosi accepted McCarthy’s three other picks – Illinois’ Rodney Davis, North Dakota’s Kelly Armstrong and Texas’ Troy Nehls. But McCarthy said that all five or none would participate.
Like Jordan and Banks, Nehls voted to overturn Biden’s victory. Armstrong and Davis voted to certify the election.