The committee investigating the January 6th Capitol Hill riot will hear from its first witnesses on Tuesday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named a second Republican to the panel.
Ms Pelosi, who last week vetoed two of House minority leader Kevin McCarthy’s picks for the committee, tapped Illinois Republican Adam Kinzinger. He will join Representative Liz Cheney as the only two Republicans participating. Both have been strong critics of former president Donald Trump and voted to impeach him in January over his role in inciting the attack.
Mr McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, who hopes to become house speaker if his party wins control of the chamber in next year’s mid-term elections, blasted the two members of his party as “Pelosi Republicans” as he arrived at the White House for an event to mark the Americans with Disabilities Act. Asked if he planned to censure the two members of his party for participating in the committee in defiance of the party’s leadership, Mr McCarthy replied: “We’ll see.”
Ms Cheney later branded his remarks as “childish”. The Wyoming congresswoman lost her Republican leadership position earlier this year over her criticism of former president Trump. She is expected to deliver one of the opening statements on Tuesday – a powerful indication of the central role she will play in the committee, which aims to get to the truth of what happened on January 6th, when a pro-Trump mob entered the Capitol.
Last week Ms Cheney said that the American people deserved to learn the truth of what happened on that day, accusing Mr McCarthy of obstructing the process at every opportunity.
Four police officers are scheduled to testify on Tuesday about the events of January 6th, which saw the US Capitol under siege for the first time in more than 200 years. At least two of them were attacked by demonstrators, according to video footage of the events. Following the chaotic afternoon, which saw members of Congress and vice-president Mike Pence rushed to safety as protesters poured into the building, questions have remained about security breaches at the Capitol as well as the extent of any co-ordinated planning ahead of the day.
Separately, behind-the-scenes negotiations were taking place in the Senate on Monday in a push to secure bipartisan agreement for President Joe Biden’s signature infrastructure plan.
Though 10 Republicans gave an informal endorsement to the plan last month during a meeting at the White House, progress has stalled over details of the plan.
Among the sticking points is disagreements between Democrats and Republicans about the amount of money that should be ring-fenced for public transport – a priority issue for many Democrats, who tend to represent more urban areas.
While a procedural motion to begin debate failed last week, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer was hoping to bring preliminary legislation to the Senate floor last night as senators returned to Washington for what is expected to be the final legislative week before the summer recess.
Meanwhile, the White House confirmed travel restrictions on passengers from Europe would remain for the moment due to the threat of the Delta variant of Covid-19.