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House Panel To Probe Capitol Riot And What's Next For Infrastructure Bill?


The House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol will have only one Republican on it. And that Republican, Liz Cheney, was appointed by a Democrat, Nancy Pelosi. The House GOP leader, Kevin McCarthy, picked five Republicans to serve. Pelosi blocked two of them, so McCarthy is pulling all five.


KEVIN MCCARTHY: Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republicans, we will not participate.

KING: NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales has been following this story. Hey, Claudia.


KING: Who are the two Republicans that Nancy Pelosi blocked, and why?

GRISALES: They are Representative Jim Banks of Indiana - he was going to be the panel's top Republican. And Jim Jordan of Ohio was going to be a member as well. But they were removed and blocked by Pelosi because of their past statements and actions. We should note both voted against the certification of President Biden's election on January 6. And Pelosi said this is an unprecedented investigation that calls for an unprecedented decision. McCarthy was visibly angry and repeatedly highlighted this was the first time a member has blocked another party's appointments to the panel - to a committee such as this. And this sets up a pretty tough precedent here. And while Democrats on the panel lauded the move, so did that lone Republican appointee you mentioned, Liz Cheney. She talked to reporters about McCarthy's role in all of this. Let's take a listen.


LIZ CHENEY: At every opportunity, the minority leader has attempted to prevent the American people from understanding what happened, to block this investigation.

GRISALES: She also went on to say that McCarthy has not demonstrated a commitment to the Constitution or the rule of law.

KING: OK, so we have the lineup now. What is the next step in the investigation?

GRISALES: So now, as is often the case on Capitol Hill these days, both parties will largely go in different directions on this investigation. Democrats will lead this probe with what will now be an eight-member panel - that's seven Democrats and Cheney - and they'll hold their first hearing on Tuesday. They're going to get firsthand accounts from Capitol Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police Department officers who were defending the Capitol on January 6.

Meanwhile, McCarthy and other Republicans who were going to serve on the panel vowed to conduct their own probe, raising these partisan pressures surrounding this investigation. But, of course, the Republican-led effort won't have the subpoena power or the level of influence of a congressional committee.

KING: OK, so that's the investigation. And then there is another piece of bipartisan grudgery. Senate Republicans blocked a vote to move forward on a 1.2 trillion allegedly bipartisan plan. What does that mean for President Biden and his agenda?

GRISALES: Yes, this was a procedural vote that failed, and it was expected. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pushed ahead because he wanted to keep this process moving, but the bipartisan group putting the bill together is still hashing out the details of this plan. There's not even text to this bill for us to see yet. So Schumer moved immediately to say he'll plan to bring the bill up on the floor again. We should note that all - that 11 Republicans sent Schumer a letter. These are Republicans that are part of the talks saying they are prepared to back a vote next week to move forward on this bill, and Democrats need at least 10 to move forward, so this is a positive sign. That said, we're still waiting for word if all 50 members of the Democratic caucus agree to a larger $3.5 trillion spending bill. So lots more to come in the coming weeks and months.

KING: OK. NPR's Claudia Grisales, thank you.

GRISALES: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.