It’s not unusual for Democrats and Republicans in Congress to be battling against each other, but with the vindictiveness of the GOP’s putative leader, Donald Trump, now motivating a policy of complete non-cooperation with the opposition party, the open conflict between the warring parties has become even more extreme.
In no matter has this been more clear than in the battle to set up a commission to investigate the circumstances that led to the January 6th insurrection, primarily because of the potential of the investigation to implicate several high-level Republican officials — including Donald Trump himself — in the incitement, and potentially the planning, of the rebellion.
The latest sign of the no-holds-barred warfare between the political parties comes a day after the House voted to establish a select committee to probe the events around the insurrection in the wake of the Senate’s rejection — predicably decided along party lines — of a larger bi-partisan congressional panel to conduct a detailed inquiry.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was quite clever in her design of the new House committee, setting up the operational rules for the body to be identical to those of the GOP fishing expeditions that were the multiple Benghazi investigatory panels in order to prevent accusations of excessive partisanship.
The legislation establishing the panel empowers 13 representatives to sit on the committee, eight of whom, including the chairperson, will be appointed by Pelosi, and 5 of whom will be chosen “after consultation” with GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, effectively giving Pelosi a veto over any Republican participation in the panel and allowing her to reject any Republican lawmakers who may become subjects of the panel’s investigation.
Pelosi had even hinted that she would nominate a Republican congressperson as part of her allocation to further reduce GOP allegations of partisan bias.
Pelosi made good on her word this morning by including Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY), one of only two House Republicans to vote in favor of the bill authorizing the committee, in her list of committee members.
The other lawmakers she appointed were Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Pete Aguilar (D-CA), and Adam Schiff (D-CA) Bennie Thompson (D-MO), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), and Elaine Luria (D-VA).
Pelosi’s GOP counterpart, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), responded not with the expected consultation to name Republican legislators to the committee, but with a threat to any of his party’s members who agree to join the panel that they would be stripped of any of their other committee assignments if they defy party leadership with their participation, according to a report on CNN.
“The takeaway is that the House minority leader has told all Republicans that if they agree to serve on this commission looking into what happened here, what transpired during a deadly insurrection on Jan. 6, that they will be removed from their committees. That’s quite a statement. … He clearly does not want any participation,” CNN reporter Jessica Dean said.
CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin decried McCarthy’s obstructionism, saying “It’s not just that the Republicans will refuse to participate in the organization of the committee, the committee itself will be faced with no cooperation from anyone who served in the Trump administration.”
Unfortunately for Minority Leader McCarthy, if he thought that his threats would prevent Congresswoman Liz Cheney — who has been extremely vocal in her condemnation of the January 6th insurrection as a grave threat to our democracy — from cooperating with the Democrats on investigating its origins, he was sorely mistaken.
Having already stripped Cheney of her leadership post within House Republicans, the Wyoming lawmaker has little left to lose in the GOP hierarchy.
Instead of cowering in the face of McCarthy’s threat, Cheney greeted her appointment with great satisfaction and an effusively defiant press release.
With the battle lines now drawn, it remains to be seen if any other members of the GOP will agree to participate in the investigatory committee.
Luckily, even without further Republican participation, the committee now has enough of a quorum to begin its work.
If ever there was an intimation of guilt by refusing to investigate a violent insurrection that many of their own party members may have been involved in planning and staging, McCarthy’s radical non-cooperation is it.
His obstructionism stinks to high heaven and only the most intractable MAGA fanatics will see his fight against accountability as anything other than a tactic admission of GOP responsibility for the treasonous insurrection designed to overturn a legitimate election.
Original reporting by Andrew Solender at Forbes.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.