It’s a contradictory turn for a conference that has struggled for a successful message defending Trump against revelations already uncovered by the select panel, instead broadly urging Washington to move on. But after two years of looking outward — Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy withdrew his picks from the panel after Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two — House Republicans are eager to turn the tide.
“I think it’s been very well documented that there were significant intelligence and communications failures on January 6. This isn’t the first time we’ve had these issues,” Rep. Kelly said. Armstrong (RN.D.), who voted to certify President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, said in an interview. “We have to stop this.”
Although House Republicans stayed almost completely out of the ongoing Jan. 6 inquiry, they quietly laid the groundwork for changes to the Capitol’s security apparatus that would go into effect much sooner than the investigations they plan to mount.
For example, they want to get rid of the metal detectors installed around the house floor after Jan. 6 that fueled GOP anger and resulted in hefty fines for lawmakers who tried to dodge them. They are also eager to reopen the Capitol complex, which still has restrictions in place after it closed at the start of the pandemic. Armstrong noted that while many of his colleagues will return to Jan. 6, his focus is on how the building operates going forward on a “general 11 a.m. on a Wednesday.”
But more central to the party’s plans for 2023 is a report, slated for release later this year by a group of Republicans led by Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) — which is considering its own leadership jump — who urges changes to the Capitol’s security management and structure.
Banks, who has backed the pro-Trump election objections, said the report he leads “will make recommendations to the next speaker … on how to provide better leadership and oversight of Capitol police.”
A GOP aide familiar with the group’s work said the next report will make recommendations to the department’s “command and control” in particular.
Law enforcement officials on and off the Hill are aware that they could soon be in the hot seat on Jan. 6 after midterms. But when asked about the possibility of a new GOP-led investigation starting next year, Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger told POLITICO he “cannot control any of this” and that he was “not worried about it”.
Meanwhile, Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, is leaving Congress after losing his primary, but plans to hand over to his successor a detailed plan to restructure the security of the House. Capitol upon its release. Whoever replaces Davis as the committee’s senior Republican will become chairman if the GOP overthrows the chamber, taking power over Hill’s safety.
“[I] I don’t want to cripple anyone my successor… but I will be forceful enough to ensure that our majority plan and roadmap – which was thought out in collaboration and collaboration with our leadership team – is put into action. work,” said Davis, who voted to certify Biden’s victory.
Part of Davis’s goal is to make further improvements to physical security and also to reform the Capitol Police Board, which he said was plagued by “overwhelming bureaucracy.” This obscure council, created in the 19th century, empowers a three-member steering committee to make security decisions for the complex. Congress passed legislation last year to give the Capitol police chief, a fourth nonvoting member of the council, more autonomy in emergencies.
Davis had pledged to use the usually low-key administration panel to probe Capitol security and the Jan. 6 select committee. A contender to claim the hammer next year who came under intense scrutiny from the select panel, Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), has also promised to consider both matters if he becomes President.
Specifically, House Republicans accused the select committee of not focusing enough on Capitol security flaws that contributed to the severity of the riot. While this area has taken precedence over Trump-focused bombshells in public hearings so far, the January 6 panel’s upcoming report and recommendations are expected to dive into what went wrong on the security front. security.
The Democratic-led administration committee also held several hearings on the matter, and an aide said the House could still pass legislation this year “to implement changes to the Capitol’s security apparatus.”
The Capitol Inspector General of Police has already made more than 100 recommendations on security changes; two assistants said in an interview that just under half of them remained open. Staffing is a particular struggle for the department, which is still short of 200 employees at authorized employment levels.
Manger said in a recent interview that the law enforcement arm is also “at least 300 short of where I would like us to be eventually,” adding that the department was finally getting ahead of attrition. Capitol Police also made intelligence and planning changes that Mr. Manger said would have had a “very different outcome” if they were in place before Jan. 6.
But some of the GOP’s areas of focus predate Trump supporters’ siege in hopes of disrupting Congressional certification of Biden’s victory. Part of the plan Davis is crafting will be the legislation he rolled out before January. 6 aimed at enhancing transparency within the Capitol Police, including a mandate to make the Inspector General’s reports publicly available.
Other areas of a future Republican inquiry into Capitol security, if the House overthrows the GOP next year, should go beyond the attack and touch on other broader decisions made under Mr. Pelosi. Republicans have particularly bristled at the coronavirus-related policies under Democratic control, including the decision to allow Covid-exposed members to vote in person in the momentous presidential ballot.
And that’s not the only element of a future GOP investigation that could directly attack Pelosi. House Republicans, including members of the leadership, have falsely suggested the California Democrat played an outsized role in the security leadership for Jan. 6. Pelosi stressed that she delegates security decisions and is not involved in day-to-day operations. Republicans also said they saw no need to speak with then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Pelosi’s counterpart on the day of the attack.
“Numerous independent fact-checkers have confirmed that Speaker Pelosi did not plan her own assassination,” said Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill. “Aside from the former president’s desperate lies, the president was no more in charge of the security of the US Capitol that day than Mitch McConnell.
Nicholas Wu contributed reporting.