US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi 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”.
r McCarthy said the Republican party won’t participate in the investigation if Democrats won’t accept the members he appointed.
Ms Pelosi cited the “integrity” of the probe in refusing to accept the appointments of Indiana Representative Jim Banks, picked by Mr McCarthy to be the top Republican on the panel, or Ohio Representative 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 Ms Pelosi has already appointed eight of the 13 members – including Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a Trump critic – and that gives them a bipartisan quorum to proceed, according to committee rules.
Ms Pelosi said she had spoken with Mr McCarthy and told him 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,” Ms Pelosi said in a statement.
She 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 6 demands this unprecedented decision”.
The move is emblematic of the political tensions in Congress that have only escalated since the insurrection and raises the possibility that the investigation – the only comprehensive probe currently being conducted of the attack – will be done almost entirely by Democrats.
The House voted in May to create an independent investigation that would have been evenly split between the parties, but Senate Republicans blocked that approach in a vote last month.
Mr McCarthy said Ms 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,” Mr McCarthy said.
It is unclear how Mr 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 Ms Pelosi wouldn’t allow the Republicans to name their own members.
Most in the Republican party have remained loyal to Mr Trump despite the violent insurrection of his supporters that sent many lawmakers running for their lives.
Mr McCarthy wouldn’t say for weeks whether Republicans would even participate in the probe, but he sent the five names to Ms Pelosi on Monday.
Ms Pelosi accepted Mr McCarthy’s three other picks – Illinois Representative Rodney Davis, North Dakota Representative Kelly Armstrong and Texas Representative Troy Nehls. But Mr McCarthy said that all five or none would participate.
Like Mr Jordan and Mr Banks, Mr Nehls voted to overturn President Biden’s victory. Mr Armstrong and Mr Davis voted to certify the election.
Mr Banks recently travelled with Mr Trump to the US-Mexico border and visited him at his New Jersey golf course. In a statement after Mr McCarthy tapped him for the panel, he sharply criticised the Democrats who had set it up.
“Make no mistake, Nancy Pelosi created this committee solely to malign conservatives and to justify the left’s authoritarian agenda,” Mr Banks said.
All but two Republicans opposed the creation of the select committee in a House vote last month.