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House approves committee to probe US Capitol assault

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Supporters of then-president Donald Trump gather outside the US Capitol before breaching the building in a riot during the congressional certification of the presidential election win of Joe Biden January 6, 2021 in Washington./AFP
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Jul 01, 2021 - 01:07 AM

WASHINGTON — The US House of Representatives voted along party lines Wednesday to investigate the deadly Capitol insurrection of January 6, green-lighting a Democratic-controlled select committee after Senate Republicans blocked an independent, 9/11-style commission.

Only two Republicans joined Democrats in the 222-190 vote to create the panel, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said will report on “conclusions and recommendations for preventing any future assault.”

Pelosi and others have described the attack on the citadel of American democracy by supporters of then-president Donald Trump as a day of darkness for the nation.

While Democrats have pushed for a thorough investigation, many Republicans have warned against the process becoming politicized.

In May, 35 of the House’s 211 Republicans joined Democrats in support of the commission that was to be modeled after the panel convened in the wake of the September 11 attacks of 2001 and which had strong bipartisan backing.

But Senate Republicans then stopped the commission in its tracks during a procedural vote, arguing the panel would have been a purely partisan exercise that adds nothing to the Department of Justice and congressional investigations already underway.

Republicans have pointed to the more than 500 people arrested for their part in the unrest, and said that those court cases will help shed sufficient light on what happened.

But Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger said that while he would have preferred a bipartisan commission, he voted for the select committee Wednesday because “we cannot let fear stop us from doing what is right.”

“The truth matters,” he added.

The select committee will have 13 House members, and Pelosi will appoint its chair.

It will have the power to subpoena witnesses, raising the prospect that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who clashed with Trump on the phone as the US Capitol was under attack, or even Trump himself, might be called to testify.

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