“Is she a Republican? Cheney freshman Rep Troy Nehls (R-Texas) joked. Nehls was one of five Republicans selected by McCarthy to sit on the selection panel.
The former House No. 3 Republican didn’t just support Pelosi’s decision, standing in front of a bank of cameras on the Capitol steps on Wednesday afternoon to torch McCarthy and reiterate her commitment to the investigation of the select committee on the violent riot.
Cheney’s decision to move forward as the only Republican on the panel further strengthens her exceptional standing on Capitol Hill, a notorious and increasingly isolated figure in a GOP conference that emphasizes Trumpism above all. For many of his fellow Republicans, Cheney has now committed an even more serious sin than his relentless criticism of the former president: to stand publicly by Pelosi’s side.
Some Republicans have even raised the idea of Cheney facing the consequences of her decision to stay involved in the panel, although they haven’t touched on the subject of what it should be.
“For her, staying is not fair. And it should have consequences for that,” said Rep. Ralph Norman (RS.C.). “She should probably just change parties and be a Democrat. She’s going to violate everything. She’s not in a leadership position so she has some freedom, but it’s so blatant.
Norman predicted that the GOP leadership would try to talk to Cheney about it and, if she refused to meet with them, House Republicans would have to hold a vote on her future among them. “Regarding the consequences for her, [it] should go to the conference – let’s vote on it as a group, ”Norman added.
McCarthy indicated that it might be untenable for Cheney to keep her committee assignments if she stays on the small panel, telling reporters earlier this month he didn’t know when “someone would get her committee assignments from. from the speaker and would expect to have them from the conference as well. The GOP chief did not respond to a question Wednesday about whether he would seek to strip Cheney’s assignments.
Cheney, for her part, is not fazed by criticism from her fellow Republicans over Pelosi’s decision to block Banks and Jordan from the investigative panel.
“We need to have this inquiry from the select committee,” Cheney told reporters, calling it “our only remaining option” after Republicans in the Senate blocked an independent, bipartisan commission on the attack. “We cannot allow those voices that are trying to stop the American people from upholding the truth.”
Democrats are unlikely to back down from their blockade of Banks and Jordan, which means Cheney could be the only Republican to sit on the committee in its first hearing next Tuesday with members of the Capitol and Department of Police. metropolitan police who responded to the January statement. 6 insurrection. For Pelosi’s party, allowing two Republican members known for their pugnacious partisanship would effectively doom the credibility of the small panel, even if they accepted McCarthy’s entire list.
On this point, Cheney agreed, calling recent rhetoric from McCarthy, Banks and Jordan “shameful.”
Jordan “may well be an important witness to the events leading up to” the January 6 riot by Trump supporters, she said, while Banks had “disqualified himself” because of his comments “demonstrating that he does not take it seriously “. She also inflamed McCarthy, adding that the leader of her conference had “at every opportunity tried to prevent the American people from understanding what had happened” during the insurgency.
The provocative Cheney, who was ousted from the House GOP conference chair in May for her repeated public criticism of Trump, is arguably more important to many Democrats than any of their own members of the select panel.
Having Cheney on the dais allows Democrats to deflect GOP criticism that they are engaged in a partisan witch hunt focused solely on Trump. In Cheney, Democrats can tell there’s a Republican in the room for the inquiry – and one of his party’s more traditionally conservative members.
Pelosi called Cheney before announcing his veto over McCarthy’s choices, briefing the Wyoming Republican on his plans and weighing his opinion in motion, according to several Democrats familiar with the conversation.
“We have Republicans on the committee,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), One of the members Pelosi solicited for the committee. “We have Representative Cheney. We currently have a bipartisan committee and the nominations belong to President Pelosi. ”
“This is a bipartisan committee that is going to seek the truth, and there is nothing partisan about it,” added Representative Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), Another panel member.
As Republicans hammer Pelosi for carrying out a partisan investigation, McCarthy and other members of the GOP leadership have unofficially opposed a bipartisan deal to form a non-partisan 9/11-style commission to deepen the insurgency.
Rep. John Katko (RN.Y.) struck a deal with Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Whom Pelosi later appointed as select committee chair, only to find the leadership was undermining his work. Despite the effort, 35 House Republicans voted in May to support a non-partisan commission. The proposal later fell to a Senate GOP filibuster.
But even some of the GOP’s most ardent supporters of an independent Jan.6 commission criticize Pelosi’s decision.
Katko said on Wednesday he supported McCarthy’s threat to boycott the select panel entirely unless Pelosi backtracked his veto: “I think that’s a logical response to what Pelosi did, and it’s a further indication that this is going to be a completely political exercise. ”
Representative Tom Rice (RS.C.), who voted to impeach Trump alongside Katko and Cheney, said Pelosi’s decision “destroys any credibility on this committee.”
Only two Republicans supported the Democrat-led move to establish a select committee: Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Another outspoken critic of Trump.
Banks were set to take part in the selection panel as the top Republican, telling POLITICO in an interview that he discussed logistics issues related to the investigation with Thompson on Tuesday afternoon, but got no response. Thompson’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the call.
Republicans are now promising their own Jan.6 inquiry. Still, some Democrats have said Republicans missed their chance to participate in the select panel when they opposed the independent commission.
“Anyone who voted against this effort to create a bipartite commission modeled on the 9/11 Commission … has really lost the opportunity to criticize all the efforts we now need to make, that option being ruled out,” Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D- Va.) Told POLITICO.
Still, Pelosi’s decision has sparked private fears among some vulnerable Democrats that she could encourage McCarthy to kick committee members out of the next Congress if her party returns to the House.
Pelosi ignored the Republicans’ return: “Maybe you are mistaking me for someone who would care.”
Sarah Ferris contributed to this report.