Speaker Nancy Pelosi has rejected two Republicans nominated by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy for a committee to investigate the January 6 insurgency at the US Capitol, claiming that the vocal Republicans could jeopardize the investigation's "integrity."
The move prompted the chamber's top Republican to threaten to withdraw from the investigation entirely.
Pelosi, who has the final say on the composition of the 13-member committee, said she told McCarthy she wouldn't accept his recommendation that Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Jim Banks of Indiana join the group, and she asked him to choose two new members instead.
“I must reject Representatives Banks and Jordan's recommendations to the Select Committee out of respect for the integrity of the investigation, an insistence on the truth, and concern about statements made and actions taken by these members,” Pelosi said in a statement. “The historic nature of January 6th necessitates this historic decision.”
McCarthy, who had previously portrayed the select committee as a political weapon for Democrats to target Republicans and former President Donald Trump, branded Pelosi's action an "egregious use of power."
“We will not participate unless Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republicans,” McCarthy stated at a press conference.
“We're going to conduct our own investigation.”
Based on their previous actions and words, several Democratic members were apprehensive about Banks and Jordan serving on the committee, according to a senior Democratic staffer involved with caucus deliberations.
According to a senior Democratic aide, reports that Jordan supported then-President Donald Trump in strategizing about how to overturn the election, as well as the likelihood of him testifying before the committee because he spoke with Trump on January 6, made him an untrustworthy panelist.
Pelosi's nominee for the committee, Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who has been open in her criticism of Trump for inciting the crowd on January 6, said she agreed with the decision to exclude Jordan and Banks and will remain on the panel. She chastised McCarthy and stated that the Capitol's violent rebellion warranted a serious inquiry.
McCarthy's other nominees, Republican Representatives Rodney Davis of Illinois, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, and Troy Nehls of Texas, are expected to be appointed by Pelosi.
Banks and Jordan are two outspoken Trump supporters who, like Nehls, voted to challenge President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory on the day of the Capitol attack.
Pelosi's action, Jordan said on Wednesday, demonstrates that the committee is a "partisan political charade."
“All they want to do is keep attacking the former president. Jordan stated, "They want to play their political game."
Republicans have said “all along that this was a purely partisan exercise by the Democrats, and Nancy Pelosi's rejection of me and Jim Jordan shows once again that she is the most partisan figure in America today,” according to Banks, who would have been the panel's ranking Republican.
Pelosi has already chosen eight members of the group, including Cheney and Mississippi Representative Bennie Thompson as chairman.
Pelosi has Pelosi's support from the White House.
In a statement, spokesman Mike Gwin said, "The President has made clear that the shameful events of January 6th deserve a full, independent, and transparent investigation to ensure something like that never happens again," adding, "He has full confidence in the Speaker's ability to lead that work."
The group will meet for the first time next week. The meeting will still take place, said Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesperson.
After Senate Republicans vetoed the creation of an independent panel to investigate the insurgency by Trump supporters, Pelosi pushed to establish the select committee. Both houses were meeting to certify electoral votes in the 2020 presidential election when the violence broke out.