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Senate votes to start debate on $1.1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- In a key test vote Wednesday evening, the Senate voted in favor of beginning debate on a $1.1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal that would provide funding for core items like roads, bridges, waterways and broadband.

Negotiators announced earlier in the day that they had reached a deal on the major aspects of plan.

Shortly after news broke that a deal had been reached, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that he would hold the test vote on the bill Wednesday, a critical first step to its passage.

Republican negotiators, all of whom blocked the procedural motion last week, said that they were ready to vote to move the bill forward and on Wednesday evening, 17 Republicans -- including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell -- voted with all of the Democrats to advance the legislation, which was still being finalized. In a surprise split in the Republican leadership, McConnell's deputy, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., voted no.

Details about the agreement were still emerging, but an aide close to the talks confirmed to ABC News that the top-line value for new spending has decreased from $579 billion in the original bipartisan agreement to $550 billion.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the lead Republican negotiator for the bipartisan group, said the bill is "more than paid for," an essential priority for Republicans, without raising taxes on those making under $400,000 a year, a red line for President Joe Biden.

The deal includes $110 billion in new funds for roads and bridges, $66 billion for rail, $7.5 billion to build out electric vehicle charging stations, $17 billion for ports, $25 billion for airports, $55 billion for clean drinking water, a $65 billion investment in high-speed internet and more.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., the chief Democratic negotiator, told reporters that she expects some of the bill text to be available Wednesday with further updates released as the remaining details are worked out.

A "small, tiny thing" related to transit and a "small thing" related to broadband must still be addressed, Sinema said, adding that negotiators are "very excited" to have a deal.

Sinema said she spoke with Biden and said he too is "very excited" about and "committed to" the plan.

Biden released a statement Wednesday afternoon hailing the deal as a signal to the world that "our democracy can function, deliver, and do big things."

"As the deal goes to the entire Senate, there is still plenty of work ahead to bring this home," Biden wrote. "There will be disagreements to resolve and more compromise to forge along the way."

Portman announced the agreement flanked by the four other Republicans in the core negotiating group early Wednesday afternoon.

"As of late last night and really early this morning we now have an agreement on the major issues we are prepared to move forward," Portman said. "We look forward to moving ahead and having the opportunity to have a healthy debate here in the chamber regarding an incredibly important project to the American people."

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who was part of the bipartisan negotiation group, touted the deal as a much-needed signal that bipartisanship is possible, even in an evenly divided Senate.

"I am delighted that we've been able to come together as a bipartisan group," Collins said. "America needs to see us be able to tackle an important issue that will affect the lives of Americans throughout this country."

It's still not clear if all Democrats are going to support the bipartisan deal. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Democratic whip, said Wednesday morning that was an "unanswered question."

"We certainly don't have a whip or people signing on the dotted line," Durbin said. "We need some assurances that we are all in this together."

Wednesday's test vote in the Senate was expected to be the first in a long series of hurdles to pass this bill and Biden's other agenda priorities. In addition to the procedural hurdles which still threaten to trip up the bipartisan deal on the floor, Democrats are also working to push through a second, larger budget bill containing the remainder of Biden's American Families Plan priorities along party lines.

Schumer has long insisted that both the budget bill and the bipartisan bill need to pass together using a "two-track" approach.

But Sinema threatened to derail that plan on Wednesday, announcing in a press release that she won't support spending the $3.5 trillion that Budget Committee Democrats agreed to as a top line for the budget bill.

"I have told Senate leadership and President Biden that I support many of the goals in this proposal to continue creating jobs, growing American competitiveness, and expanding economic opportunities for Arizonans," Sinema said. "I have also made clear that while I will support beginning this process, I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion -- and in the coming months, I will work in good faith to develop this legislation with my colleagues and the administration to strengthen Arizona's economy and help Arizona's everyday families get ahead.”

To pass the budget bill, Democrats will need the support of every Democrat serving in the Senate. Sinema's opposition points to the possibility of a long road ahead for many of Biden's infrastructure priorities.
 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Republicans, Democrats battle over new House mask mandate

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(WASHINGTON) -- Republicans and Democrats on Wednesday battled over the new House of Representatives' new mask mandate, with more than a dozen Republicans voting twice without masks, despite new guidance from the Capitol physician aimed at preventing fast-spreading COVID-19 infections.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy "such a moron" Wednesday morning when asked about his criticism of the new mask mandate in the House.

"That's the decision from the Capitol physician, a mandate from him," Pelosi told reporters. "I have nothing to say about that, except we honor it."

Asked about McCarthy saying the decision was not "based on science," she replied, "He's such a moron," as she got into her car.

In a directive issued Tuesday night, The Office of the Attending Physician, Dr. Brian Monahan, said it was now required that all members and staff wear "medical-grade" masks throughout the House, unless members are speaking in the halls of the House or individuals are alone.

Members and staff will once again be prohibited from stepping on the floor to vote without a mask, or risk incurring fines.

The directive cited the increasing threat from the delta variant and noted House members travel weekly to and from areas of both high and low rates of disease spread. It also mentioned the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mask guidance for vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in where transmission is high or substantial, as well as recommending universal masking in schools.

"The same bureaucratic ‘public health experts’ who completely upended our society by pushing lockdowns and yearlong school closures now want to force Americans to return to pre-vaccine control measures. By forcing vaccinated Americans to return to masks, the Biden administration is not only casting doubt on a safe and effective vaccine, but contradicting why vaccines exist," McCarthy said in a statement in response. "Make no mistake — the threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state.”

After meeting with the top doctor on Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon, McCarthy took to the House floor to decry the return of the House mask mandate and to slam Pelosi for calling him a "moron."

"Today, the Speaker who didn't know her own science, and said names to people, broke her own rules. Twice today, I saw the speaker in a crowded room without a mask. Less than 24 hours after imposing a mask mandate," he said.

"You don't know the facts or the science!" he said. "Do you know what frustrates Americans the most? Hypocrisy."

McCarthy claimed the vaccination rate for members of Congress is over 85 percent. "And, as of today, the transmission rate on the Capitol campus is less than 1 percent," he continued. "Well, the facts would tell us this isn't a hot spot, so the CDC recommendation doesn't apply to us!"

Republicans derailed the House floor schedule twice earlier on Wednesday, by forcing procedural votes protesting the new requirements.

At one point, the House was forced to vote on a motion to adjourn offered by Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas to disrupt proceedings, ostensibly over the mask mandate.

"This sham of an institution is doing nothing for the American people!" Roy yelled.

"We have people infected with Covid coming across the southern border,” he added, demanding that Dr. Fauci appear before Congress to testify about natural immunity. "Which is it? Vaccines or masks?"

"I don't believe that masks make any difference," Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., told ABC News when asked why he wasn't wearing a mask. "If they’ve been vaccinated, what are they worried about a threat from me?”

When asked if he had been vaccinated, he said, "I don't answer that question because it's no one's business."

Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas, another unmasked member, said he had "double immunity" from the vaccine and a prior COVID-19 infection.

"I'll pay the fines, I'm not wearing a damn mask," he said.

Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., another unmasked and unvaccinated member, got into a shouting match with liberal Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., who told him to "get vaccinated," and continued the feud on Twitter.

"You can't compel people to put something in their own body. People have to decide to do that for themselves," Donalds said. "I'm 42, healthy, and I already had COVID."

Asked about his colleague Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., who was hospitalized despite believing he already had COVID, he said, "The reality is that people are going to make their own decisions."

As for the possibility of spreading the disease to vulnerable people with preexisting conditions, he said, "Anybody would be concerned about that."

"What we're doing is shifting the goalposts to eliminating COVID. And I want to eliminate COVID but we can't be just shifting the goalposts on every American," Higgins said. "If you have symptoms, go get tested. If you test positive, go isolate. This is not hard."

Among the Republicans bristling at the return of the mask mandate on Wednesday was longtime opponent Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., who was seen throwing a mask back at a House staffer who offered her one.

According to two people who saw the exchange, Boebert threw a mask back at a staffer on the House floor and refused to put one on to comply with the latest rules. One person said she threw the mask on the ground.

Boebert’s office did not dispute the exchange, saying in a statement, "Rep. Boebert refuses to comply with Speaker Pelosi’s anti-science, totalitarian mask mandate. When offered a mask, she returned it with a quick slide across the table."

Boebert could receive a $500 fine for breaking the new mandate. GOP Reps. Roy, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who also appeared on the floor without masks, could be fined as well.

Members can appeal the fines to the ethics committee, and receive $2500 fines for subsequent offenses.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Jan. 6 select committee to meet on next steps, move on subpoenas

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(WASHINGTON) -- A day after its first hearing with emotional testimony from police officers brought the Jan 6. Capitol attack back into the national spotlight, the House select committee investigating the assault will meet this week on possible next steps, including issuing subpoenas.

"I have no reluctance whatsoever in issuing subpoenas for information," Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told MSNBC's Morning Joe Wednesday morning, asserting the committee "absolutely" has the authority. "Nothing is off limits in this investigation."

His comment comes after the Department of Justice said in letters to former DOJ officials and provided to congressional committees that they can participate in investigations related to the Jan. 6, according to sources and letters reviewed by ABC News Tuesday, which the House Oversight Committee later confirmed. Therefore, if witnesses try to fight subpoenas, they may have to do so on their own dime.

"Members of Congress have already admitted that they talked to the White House while it was going on. Now many of them are trying to walk back the conversation they had," Thompson said. "We plan to pursue it."

Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who sits on the committee, told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that the committee had not ruled out calling Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who has criticized the committee and was vetoed from it by House Speaker Pelosi over comments she said would damage its credibility, to testify.

Jordan admitted on Tuesday evening that he -- like GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy -- spoke to former President Donald Trump on the phone on Jan. 6, and in another interview Wednesday with Ohio Spectrum News reporter Taylor Popielarz, confirmed he spoke to Trump on Jan. 6.

Asked by Popielarz if he spoke to Trump before during or after the attack, Jordan said he didn’t remember.

“I spoke with him that day. After? I think after. I don't know if I spoke with him in the morning or not. I just don't know,” he said.

Fox News host Brett Baier also pressed Jordan Tuesday on whether he spoke to Trump that day, and Jordan repeatedly deflected, saying he's "talked to the former president umpteen times -- thousands, countless times."

Baier followed up, "But I mean on January 6, congressman."

"Yes," Jordan said. "I mean, I've talked to the president so many -- I can't remember all the days I've talked to him, but I've certainly talked to the president."

Conversations in Trump's orbit, such as the apparent call with Jordan, are key to what the committee is seeking to investigate, with Cheney saying Tuesday that Americans should know what happened "what happened every minute of that day in the White House."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi affirmed the committee's subpoena power in her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill, but distanced herself from the committee itself as House Republican leaders disparaged the two GOP members who joined the panel as "Pelosi Republicans."

When asked what will happen if House members don't comply with subpoenas, Pelosi emphasized she is not involved with the select committee and "has not been a party to any of those decisions, so I cannot tell you what they might decide."

The speaker also dismissed concerns that there will be political backlash if the committee's work drags out or loses momentum, asked if she would like to see the committee move more expeditiously.

"They will take the time that they need," she said. "We were very late in getting to this because we were striving for the bipartisan commission, which we thought was very possible."

While lawmakers have a seven-week recess coming up, Thompson said Wednesday that the committee will meet again to discuss its next steps this week.

"We'll have a meeting before we break for the August recess, but in reality, I think you know we'll be back during that recess doing our work because we have to get to the bottom of it," he told MSNBC. "Our democracy depends on it."

At its first hearing, the committee heard from four officers who recounted they feared for their lives on Jan. 6 as they were brutally beaten and outnumbered by a pro-Trump mob. One officer described fearing he would be "torn apart" and chants of "kill him with his own gun." Another said he was taunted with racial slurs in uniform for the first time in his career.

They all criticized lawmakers who have downplayed the attack and pleaded with the panel to uncover if those in power aided and abetted rioters, including the former president.

"There was an attack on Jan. 6, and a hit man sent them," said Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn. "I want you to get to the bottom of that."

Democrats are already coming to the defense of the officers after right-leaning cable news hosts attacked the testimonies as performative Tuesday night.

"Stupidity has no reach. It can go anywhere. It's unfortunate that people would interpret the brave people who defended the Capitol as somehow disingenuous in their presentations," Thompson said Wednesday.

While Capitol police officers watched the hearing on TVs and phones in the hallways of the building that was attacked, Republican leaders who blocked efforts to investigate the day dismissed the hearing as a political play and said they didn't watch.

Senate GOP Mitch McConnell, who said after the attack that the "mob was fed lies" and "provoked by the president and other powerful people," said he was "busy doing work" during the hearing.

"I don't see how I could have expressed myself more forthrightly than I did on that occasion, and I stand by everything I said," he said.

McCarthy, who held an event outside the Capitol ahead of the hearing as a preemptive strike to the officers' testimony, told a Politico reporter he wasn't able to because he was stuck in "back-to-back meetings."

Notably, McCarthy has suggested Pelosi didn't do enough to secure the Capitol that day, but McConnell, as leader of the Senate, has not faced the same criticism. Security at the Capitol is controlled by the Capitol Police Board.

GOP Rep. Matthew Rosendale of Montana told ABC News he only watched the opening statement from Cheney, who was ousted as the No. 3 House Republican earlier this year following her criticism of Trump's role on Jan. 6.

"I was quite disappointed," he said, before launching into a series of questions he wanted to be answered.

But because Republicans gave up their ability to participate in the hearing, with McCarthy withdrawing all of his members, they couldn't lead the discussion in their preferred direction.

Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif, who sits on the committee, blasted Republicans to ABC News who chose not to hear from the officers who helped protect them.

"For Kevin McCarthy and for my colleague from Montana to just say, 'Oh I didn't have the time to watch this hearing,' you know, is just unfortunate and sad, and they just want to play politics with this," he said. "That's all this is."

Aguilar added the public can expect more public hearings to come, though the date for the committee's next hearing has not yet been announced.

ABC News' Alex Mallin, Katherine Faulders and Ben Siegel contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


DOJ issues guidance cautioning states on so-called election 'audits'

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(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department on Wednesday released guidance intended to caution states embarking on so-called post-election 'audits' of vote counts for the 2020 presidential election that they must not run afoul of federal voting laws.

The guidance, previously previewed last month by Attorney General Merrick Garland in his policy address on voting rights, outlines federal statutes that the department says elections officials must adhere to during such "audits," such as preserving all federal elections materials and making sure they're not tampered with.

"This document sets down a marker that says the Justice Department is concerned about this, and we will be following this closely," a DOJ official told reporters on a media conference call Wednesday.

The guidance echoes a warning sent by the department back in May to the Republican-run audit in Arizona, warning officials there that all election records must be preserved and expressing concern about the state handing over election materials to the private contractor group Cyber Ninjas.

After the department's letter, Arizona officials backed off of a plan to send contractors from the group to visit homes in the state's largest county of Maricopa to ask voters whether or not they had cast ballots. The Wednesday guidance includes a warning that officials who seek to embark on such "audits" can't do so in a way that will intimidate voters.

DOJ officials on Wednesday declined to provide any update on the department's review of the Arizona "audit." But the guidance comes as Republicans in several other states have expressed interest or are already moving forward with similarly partisan reviews of the 2020 vote count in certain jurisdictions -- despite lacking any evidence of widespread fraud.

The department also issued separate guidance Wednesday that outlines the range of federal laws protecting voting by different methods.

"It's responsive to the fact that more Americans than ever are voting, not on Election Day in person in a polling place, but that are voting at voting centers or voting early or voting by mail," one official said.

An official said that the second set of guidance should be a note of caution to states that might be looking to roll back policies that expanded access to voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. The official gave the example of the election bill passed this year by Republicans in Georgia that implemented voting restrictions the department is now suing over, alleging it unlawfully targets minority communities.

"You should not assume that if you abandon the practices that have made it easier for people to vote, that abandonment is not going to get scrutiny from the Department of Justice," an official said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Bipartisan infrastructure deal reached: Negotiators

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(WASHINGTON) -- Negotiators say they have a deal on the major aspects of a $1.1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal that would provide funding for core items like roads, bridges, waterways and broadband.

Shortly after news broke that a deal had been reached, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that he would hold a test vote on the bill Wednesday, a critical first step to its passage.

Republican negotiators, all of whom blocked the procedural motion last week, said they're ready to vote to move the bill forward, and Schumer said he believes he'll have the 60 votes necessary.

Details about the agreement are still emerging, but an aide close to the talks confirmed to ABC News that the top-line value for new spending has decreased from $579 billion in the original bipartisan agreement to $550 billion.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the lead Republican negotiator for the bipartisan group, said the bill is "more than paid for," an essential priority for Republicans, without raising taxes on those making under $400,000 a year, a red line for Biden.

The deal includes $110 billion in new funds for roads and bridges, $66 billion for rail, $7.5 billion to build out electric vehicle charging stations, $17 billion for ports, $25 billion for airports, $55 billion for clean drinking water, a $65 billion investment in high-speed internet and more.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., the chief Democratic negotiator, told reporters that she expects some of the bill text to be available Wednesday with further updates released as the remaining details are worked out.

A "small tiny thing" related to transit and a "small thing" related to broadband must still be addressed, Sinema said, adding that negotiators are "very excited" to have a deal.

Sinema said she spoke with President Joe Biden and said he too is "very excited" about and "committed to" the plan.

Biden released a paper statement Wednesday afternoon hailing the deal as a signal to the world that "our democracy can function, deliver, and do big things."

"As the deal goes to the entire Senate, there is still plenty of work ahead to bring this home," Biden wrote. "There will be disagreements to resolve and more compromise to forge along the way."

Portman announced the agreement flanked by the four other Republicans in the core negotiating group early Wednesday afternoon.

"As of late last night and really early this morning we now have an agreement on the major issues we are prepared to move forward," Portman said. "We look forward to moving ahead and having the opportunity to have a healthy debate here in the chamber regarding an incredibly important project to the American people."

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who was part of the bipartisan negotiation group, touted the deal as a much-needed signal that bipartisanship is possible, even in an evenly divided Senate.

"I am delighted that we've been able to come together as a bipartisan group," Collins said. "America needs to see us be able to tackle an important issue that will affect the lives of Americans throughout this country."

It's still not clear if all Democrats are going to support the bipartisan deal. Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois Wednesday morning said that was an "unanswered question."

"I don't believe we certainly don't have a whip or people signing on the dotted line," Durbin said. "We need some assurances that we are all in this together."

But Wednesday's test vote in the Senate will be just the first in a long series of hurdles to pass this bill and Biden's other agenda priorities. In addition to the procedural hurdles which still threaten to trip up the bipartisan deal on the floor, Democrats are also working to push through a second, larger budget bill containing the remainder of Biden's American Families Plan priorities along party lines.

Schumer has long insisted that both the budget bill and the bipartisan bill need to pass together using a "two-track" approach.

But Sinema threatened to derail that plan on Wednesday, announcing in a press release that she won't support spending the $3.5 trillion that Budget Committee Democrats agreed to as a top line for the budget bill.

"I have told Senate leadership and President Biden that I support many of the goals in this proposal to continue creating jobs, growing American competitiveness, and expanding economic opportunities for Arizonans," Sinema said. "I have also made clear that while I will support beginning this process, I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion -- and in the coming months, I will work in good faith to develop this legislation with my colleagues and the administration to strengthen Arizona's economy and help Arizona's everyday families get ahead.”

To pass the budget bill, Democrats will need the support of every Democrat serving in the Senate. Sinema's opposition points to the possibility of a long road ahead for many of Biden's infrastructure priorities.

ABC News' Molly Nagle contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Culture wars threaten to overtake war on COVID

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(WASHINGTON) -- The TAKE with Rick Klein

It takes less than ever to find partisan grooves these days -- and the fact that they've been etched deeper out of the fallout from Jan. 6 serves as a case in point.

That's the reality that confronts President Joe Biden with this next uncertain phase of combatting the pandemic. New federal guidance on mask mandates and the consideration of a vaccine requirement for federal workers run into longstanding political arguments about individual liberties and personal accountability.

The push for vaccinations has become less partisan of late, with prominent Republicans adding new emphasis -- and giving special credit to the previous administration -- to make the case.

Yet mask-wearing and vaccine requirements have long since taken on cultural as well as political significance, and the fallout of Biden's latest comments offer just a taste. Former President Donald Trump is offering strong pushback to mandates, and consider as well how readily some Republicans are using Dr. Anthony Fauci as a foil -- raising money off the mention of his name, and even threatening legal action against him.

Biden indicated that he will outline next steps in the push to vaccinate the country on Thursday, as some statistics showing rates going up of late. The president on Tuesday also served up a reminder that as a candidate he "promised to be straight with you about COVID -- good news or bad."

Another reminder: 11 months ago, Biden said he wouldn't hesitate to order another shutdown if that's what his advisers recommended.

"I would shut it down; I would listen to the scientists," he told ABC "World News Tonight" Anchor David Muir last August.

The campaign was quick to clarify that comment at the time. Biden's statement Tuesday about masks and vaccines framed them as a way "to avoid the kind of lockdowns, shutdowns, school closures and disruptions we faced in 2020."

"We are not going back to that," the president said.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

The testimony of Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn underscored the additional layer of trauma Black law enforcement officers experienced on Jan. 6.

Dunn's heartbreaking testimony chronicled the racial slurs he endured as he tried to defend the seat of our nation's democracy.

Among the insurrectionists were attackers who carried Confederate flags, donned shirts with anti-Semitic messages and freely hurled the n-word at Black officers.

"No one had ever, ever called me a n***** while wearing the uniform of a Capitol Police officer," said Dunn.

He also brought with him the stories of other Black officers, later adding, "Another Black officer later told me he had been confronted by insurrectionists in the Capitol who told him, put your gun down and we'll show you what kind of n***** you really are."

For many, listening to Dunn recount the epithets stung as they were broadcast uncensored. The attack at the Capitol is often referred to as one of our nation's darkest days, it's particularly poignant that racism crept its way into the ugliness of it all, too.

It's a vile reminder that racism in America, even in its most blatant forms, still exists.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

Republicans in Washington have one more representative joining their ranks -- but the victory serves as an upset to Trump, despite his looming influence over the Republican Party on a national scale.

Nearly three months after the May 1 special election, State Rep. Jake Ellzey came out on top in Tuesday's runoff election for Texas' 6th Congressional District. Ellzey faced off with fellow Republican, Susan Wright, who had Trump's backing going into the contest due to the political legacy of her late husband, Rep. Ron Wright, who died in February from COVID and complications with cancer.

The conclusion of the race is the latest indicator of the former president's looming influence over his party in a state that is increasingly becoming ground zero for intra-party battles.

On Monday, Trump waded into another high-profile Texan battle by endorsing incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton for another term. The move served a devastating -- and complicated -- blow to Land Commissioner George P. Bush, who was the only member of his storied political family to publicly back Trump, despite the former president launching repeated attacks against his father, Jeb Bush.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


DOJ declines to back Rep. Mo Brooks in lawsuit brought by Rep. Swalwell over Jan. 6 incitement

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(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department declined a request from Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., Tuesday night to intervene for him in a lawsuit brought by a Democratic lawmaker suing him for his role in allegedly inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

In a new filing, the DOJ said it has determined it does not believe Brooks was acting within the scope of the duties of his office when he spoke in front of a pro-Trump rally just before rioters stormed the building, telling the crowd, "today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking a**."

Brooks had asked for the Justice Department to replace him as a defendant in a lawsuit brought by Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., providing him legal immunity under a law known as the Westfall Act that former President Donald Trump similarly has sought to use to shield him from an effort by columnist E. Jean Carroll to sue him for defamation over his denial of her rape allegation.

"We appreciate the thoughtful analysis by the Committee on House Administration and the Department of Justice and could not agree more with their conclusion," Rep. Swalwell’s attorney Philip Andonian said in a statement Tuesday night. "This conduct manifestly is outside the scope of Brooks’s employment as a member of Congress and the House and DOJ made the right call in requiring him to answer directly for his actions. This is a great step toward justice."

Attorney General Merrick Garland faced a barrage of criticism last month when the department said it would continue to seek to substitute itself for Trump in the lawsuit, arguing that the law did apply to Trump even if they believed his statements were "crude" and "disrespectful."

"The essence of the rule of law is that like cases be treated alike," Garland said in defense of the move in testimony before a Senate panel. "That there not be one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans. That there not be one rule for friends and another for foes."

Brooks similarly argued that by speaking to the rally and repeating Trump's false claims of a stolen election that he was performing an official act of his office by representing the interests of his constituents.

Brooks has not responded to ABC News' request for comment following the DOJ's decision Tuesday.

But the chair of the House Administration Committee, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., disputed that assertion in a July 23 letter to the Justice Department, saying that Brooks' conduct was "in furtherance of political campaigns" and thus should be deemed outside the scope of his office.

"Essentially, in deflecting the allegation that his speech was an incitement to violence, Representative Brooks has sworn under oath to the court that his conduct was instead in furtherance of political campaigns," Lofgren wrote. "As noted, standards of conduct that apply to Members and precedents of the House are clear that campaign activity is outside the scope of official duties and not a permissible use of official resources."

The Justice Department in its late filing Tuesday night largely backed Lofgren's position, saying, "Brooks’s appearance at the Jan. 6 rally was campaign activity, and it is no part of the business of the United States to pick sides among candidates in federal elections. ... Indeed, although the scope of employment related to the duties of a Member of Congress is undoubtedly broad and there are some activities that cannot be neatly cleaved into official and personal categories, Brooks’s request for certification and substitution of the United States for campaign-related conduct appears to be unprecedented."

"Members of Congress are subject to a host of restrictions that carefully distinguish between their official functions, on the one hand, and campaign functions, on the other," the department said. "The conduct at issue here thus is not the kind a Member of Congress holds office to perform, or substantially within the authorized time and space limits, as required by governing law," the DOJ wrote.

The DOJ also notes that "if proven" the conduct Brooks is alleged by Swalwell to have engaged in "would plainly fall outside the scope of employment for an officer or employee of the United States." "... conspiring to prevent the lawful certification of the 2020 election and to injure Members of Congress and inciting the riot at the Capitol."

"Alleged action to attack Congress and disrupt its official functions is not conduct a Member of Congress is employed to perform and is not “actuated . . . by a purpose to serve” the employer, as required by District of Columbia law to fall within the scope of employment," the department wrote in its filing.

Legal experts have been closely watching what the DOJ would ultimately decide in Brooks' case, believing it could have a significant impact on other cases brought against allies of former President Trump being sued for encouraging or inciting the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

It is still unclear, however, whether the judge overseeing the case will decide to grant Brooks' request to substitute the DOJ for himself despite DOJ's stated opposition Tuesday evening.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Key takeaways from Jan. 6 hearing: Powerful testimony counters revisionist history

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(WASHINGTON) -- The House select committee tasked with investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol held its first hearing Tuesday in which lawmakers heard dramatic, emotional accounts from law enforcement officers who defended the building against a pro-Trump mob.

"We're going to revisit some of those moments today, and it won't be easy," Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said to open the hearing, while praising the officers for holding the line. "But history will remember your names and your actions."

Here are key takeaways from the first hearing:

All witnesses feared for their lives during attack

The four officers testifying -- Capitol Police officers Aquilino Gonell and Harry Dunn and Metropolitan Police Department officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges -- flatly rejected any attempts to rewrite history on Jan. 6 and downplay the attack as one that shouldn't be investigated further, telling lawmakers they all feared for their lives on Jan. 6.

When Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., asked Gonell to respond to former President Donald Trump's calling the crowd "loving." Gonell placed responsibility on him for sending his supporters to the Capitol.

"It's a pathetic excuse for his behavior for something that he himself helped to create -- this monstrosity," Gonell said. "I'm still recovering from those 'hugs and kisses' that day."

Hodges, who referred to the rioters as "terrorists," detailed the weapons used against officers that day including police shields, batons, hammers, a sledgehammer, flag poles, tasers, pepper spray, bear and wasp spray, copper pipes, rocks, table legs broken down, guardrails, cones and "any items they can get their hands on."

"There were over 9,000 of the terrorists out there with an unknown number of firearms and a couple hundred of us, maybe. So we could not -- if that turned into a firefight, we would have lost," he said. "And this was a fight we couldn't afford to lose."

Hodges, who was crushed in a doorway that day, recalled how he had to wrestle with one rioter who tried to take his baton and how another shouted at him, "'You will die on your knees.'"

Gonell also described the day as a scene "from a medieval battlefield."

"I could feel myself losing oxygen and recall thinking to myself, 'this is how I'm going to die, trampled defending this entrance,'" he said.

But the officers said they didn't think twice about defending the Capitol and democracy, as traumatic as the experience was for them, their colleagues and families.

"Us four officers, we would do Jan. 6 all over again," Dunn said. "We wouldn't stay home because we knew what was going to happen. We would show up. That's courageous. That's heroic. So what I ask from you all, is to get to the bottom of what happened."

The lawmakers choked up at times during the officers' testimony including Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who told them, "You guys may like individually feel a little broken ... but you guys won."

"Democracies are not defined by our bad days. We're defined by how we come back from bad days," he said.

Racial slurs heard at riot haunt hearing room: 'I guess it is America'

Racial slurs haunted the hearing room as officers recounted chants made by the mob, moving some officers to tears and prompting some lawmakers to hang their heads.

Dunn recounted the racist verbal abuse he endured from rioters in emotional testimony and said it was the first time he had been called the n-word in uniform.

"I'm a law enforcement officer and I do my best to keep politics out of my job, but in this circumstance I responded, 'Well, I voted for Joe Biden, does my vote not count? Am I nobody?'" he said he told rioters who falsely shouted at him the election was stolen.

"That prompted a torrent of racial epithets," Dunn said. "One woman in a pink MAGA shirt yelled "You hear that guys, this n***** voted for Joe Biden."

Dunn, who also witnessed a Confederate flag carried through the Capitol, said that other Black officers shared similar stories of racial abuse from the day.

"I sat down on the bench in the Rotunda with a friend of mine, who is also a Black Capitol Police officer and told him about the racial slurs I endured. I became very emotional and began yelling, 'How the blank could something like this happen? Is this America?'" he said. "I began sobbing."

When Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., posed the same question to Dunn later, the officer said, "I guess it is America. It shouldn't be."

Committee looking to subpoena Trump, lawmakers

Cheney, in her opening statement, made clear the committee is open to subpoenaing the former president, White House aides and members of Congress as they create a timeline of the day.

"We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House. Every phone call, every conversation, every meeting, leading up to, during, and after the attack. Honorable men and women have an obligation to step forward," she said.

Adding to that pressure, all four witnesses told lawmakers they wanted an investigation into those in power who may have aided and abetted rioters.

Dunn used an analogy with a hitman to describe his expectations, in an apparent nod to the former president, after the witnesses spent three and a half hours recounting chants of "Trump sent us," among others.

"If a hitman is hired and he kills somebody, the hitman goes to jail, but not only does the hitman go to jail but the person who hired them does. There was an attack carried out on Jan. 6 and a hitman sent them," he said. "I want you to get to the bottom of that."

Thompson said at a press conference after the hearing that the committee could be brought back for another hearing during the House's August recess, which starts Friday. The panel said its work is just beginning.

The Department of Justice said in letters to former Trump officials, and provided to congressional committees, that they can participate in the investigations into the Jan. 6 attack, according to sources and letters reviewed by ABC News earlier Tuesday.

Cheney and Kinzinger poke holes in GOP arguments against committee

The two Republicans on the panel spent their questioning time pushing back on some of the most prominent Republican talking points after Jan. 6 -- including that the rioters were not violent and that whatever took place at the Capitol paled in comparison to violence perpetrated by antifa during racial justice protests.

"I condemn those riots and the destruction of property that resulted -- but not once did I ever feel that the future of self-governance was threatened like I did on Jan. 6," Kinzinger said. "There was a difference between breaking the law and rejecting the rule of law, between a crime, even grave crimes and a coup."

Kinzinger also defended his choice to serve on the committee, saying it's "not in spite of my membership in the Republican Party, but because of it, not to win a political fight, but to learn the facts and defend our democracy."

Cheney reminded in her opening statement that she and other lawmakers preferred to establish an independent commission to investigate the attack, but that effort was "defeated by Republicans in the Senate."

"That leaves us where we are today. We cannot leave the violence of Jan. 6 and its causes uninvestigated," she said. "If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our constitutional republic."

The former No. 3 House Republican also reminded that her GOP colleagues had "recognized the events that day for what they actually were" in the days after the attack, even if members downplay it now.

Ahead of Tuesday's hearing, Republicans who boycotted the select panel said the hearing should focus on the fact that Capitol Police were unprepared for Jan. 6. But because they gave up their ability to participate in the hearing, they couldn't lead the discussion in their preferred direction -- or challenge Democrats' lines of inquiry the way Cheney and Kinzinger picked apart some of their claims.

Officers, while praised for heroism, blast lawmakers for partisan politics

While the officers were praised throughout the hearing for holding the line on Jan. 6, with lawmakers on the panel thanking them for their protection, the officers didn't hold back when describing their disapproval in how partisan politics has muddied the search for the truth.

Fanone, the Metropolitan Police Department officer who was dragged down the Capitol steps, beaten with a flagpole, tased repeatedly and taunted with chants of "kill him with his own gun," called out lawmakers on Tuesday who have blocked efforts for an investigation.

"The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful," he said, slamming his fist on the witness table. "I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room, but too many are now telling me that hell doesn't exist or that hell actually wasn't that bad."

"Nothing -- truly nothing -- has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny the events of that day, and in doing so betray their oath of office," he added.

Gonell said of the former president downplaying the day, "It's insulting, it's demoralizing because everything that we did was to prevent everyone in the Capitol from getting hurt."

Dunn said that the investigation is innately political because of the landscape surrounding the attack, but that it shouldn't stop lawmakers from seeking the truth.

"It's not a secret that it was political. They literally were there to stop the steal. So when people say it shouldn't be political, it is. It was and it is. There's no getting around that," he said.

"Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are being lauded as courageous heroes and while I agree with that notion, why? Because they told the truth? Why is telling the truth hard?" he asked. "I guess in this America, it is."

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Biden: Requirement for all federal employees to get vaccine 'under consideration'

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(WASHINGTON) -- President Joe Biden said Tuesday afternoon that a mandate to require all federal employees to be vaccinated is now "under consideration."

He said this one day after the Department of Veterans Affairs moved to require all health workers get a COVID-19 vaccine and shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited new science on the transmissibility of the delta variant and reversed its mask guidance.

"It's under consideration right now," Biden said when asked by ABC News if the federal government would expand the vaccine mandate. "But if you're not vaccinated, you're not nearly as smart as I thought you were."
 

As he wrapped a visit to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, ABC News also asked the president about Tuesday's new guidance from the CDC, recommending masks for vaccinated Americans in public, and whether it would cause confusion, but Biden continued to focus on those who remain unvaccinated.

"We have a pandemic because the unvaccinated -- and they're sowing enormous confusion," he said. "The more we learned -- the more we learn about this virus and the delta variation, the more we have to be worried, concerned."

"And the only one thing we know for sure, if those other 100 million people got vaccinated we'd be in a very different world. So get vaccinated. If you aren't, you're not nearly as smart as I thought you were," Biden continued.

Following his remarks, Biden released a statement saying the CDC decision is "another step on our journey to defeating the virus" and that he'd have more to say on Thursday when he will "lay out the next steps" to get more Americans vaccinated.

Regarding the CDC recommendation for students, Biden said it's "inconvenient," but gives them a chance to learn "with their classmates with the best available protection."

He also acknowledged concerns that as cases rise and mask guidance is reversed that the U.S. could be heading back to restrictions and closures but said in the statement, "We are not going back to that."

"In the meantime, more vaccinations and mask wearing in the areas most impacted by the delta variant will enable us to avoid the kind of lockdowns, shutdowns, school closures and disruptions we faced in 2020. Unlike 2020, we have both the scientific knowledge and the tools to prevent the spread of this disease," he said.

Earlier Tuesday, the CDC cited new science on the transmissibility of the delta variant and reversed its mask guidance to recommend that everyone in areas with high levels of COVID, vaccinated or not, wear a mask, as the virus continues to spread rapidly across the U.S.

"This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendation," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters during a briefing on Tuesday afternoon.

Throughout Washington there was a quick return to mask wearing for many who had grown accustomed to being without.

Vice President Kamala Harris, meeting with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Native American voting rights advocates Tuesday afternoon, wore a mask indoors for the first time since May 13.

Asked about the development, Harris gave a little shrug.

"None of us like wearing masks," she said bluntly.

She noted that most people dying at this point are not vaccinated.

"People need to get vaccinated. That's the only way we're going to cut this thing off. No one likes wearing a mask. Get vaccinated. That's it," she said, then hitting her hand on the table for emphasis.

ABC News' Cheyenne Haslett and Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.

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McAuliffe calls on Youngkin to cancel appearance at local GOP's rally billed around 'election integrity'

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(RICHMOND, Va.) -- Virginia gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe called on his GOP opponent Glenn Youngkin to cancel his appearance at and denounce what the 5th Congressional District Republican Party is calling an "election integrity regional rally," which coincides with the anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act first being signed into law.

Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, called on the 5th District Republicans to cancel the event altogether.

"We all know what Glenn Youngkin and Republicans mean when they talk about election integrity. They're following Donald Trump's lie that the 2020 election was stolen and pushing restricting measures that make it harder for folks to exercise their fundamental right to vote," Swecker said in a virtual press conference Tuesday. "Here in Virginia, we fought hard to protect and expand the sacred right to vote, and we're not about to let Glenn Youngkin drag us backwards."

The two-day, paid event is scheduled for Aug. 6 and 7 at Liberty University, a private evangelical Christian institution in Lynchburg. Attendees can purchase "early bird tickets" through Friday, which cost $60 per individual and $110 per couple; after Friday, ticket price increases by $20 and $40, respectively, according to the flyer for the event.

Youngkin, along with the other statewide GOP nominees for lieutenant governor, Winsome Sears, and attorney general, Jason Miyares, are the headliners for the Saturday night banquet.

The itinerary for the 5th District Republicans' rally, which was not organized or being run by the Youngkin campaign, does not indicate it will be an event highlighting conspiracies about the 2020 election. It appears to be more of a grassroots event for the party's faithful, with breakout sessions focused on voter registration, outreach like phone banking and door-knocking, organizing and election monitoring, for which there is a legal process to do.

In response to a request for comment, Melvin Adams, the chairman of the 5th District Republicans, told ABC News the party is "not surprised by these tactics."

"They know this is a close race and that our event to thank, inspire, equip, and empower our 'grassroots' volunteers, while also helping them know how they can help to secure the integrity of our local elections, will cause an unprecedented Republican turnout in this very RED region of Virginia," Adams said. "That is why they are attempting to cause distraction."

Election integrity has become the rallying cry of the Republican Party following the 2020 presidential election, which former President Donald Trump continues to falsely claim was "rigged," despite no real evidence to support the baseless accusation of widespread fraud in battleground states Trump legitimately lost. Republican-led state legislatures, including Georgia, Florida and Arizona, have passed new "election integrity" laws, some of which amount to sweeping rewrites of election code.

The lawmakers justify these changes by asserting voters have lost faith in the system and are demanding changes -- though few in the party openly acknowledge the source of that diminished confidence among voters, Republican voters specifically.

Youngkin, who earned Trump's endorsement after securing the nomination, has not personally repeated the same lies about the election being "stolen," but the issue of election integrity has been central to his campaign.

Before the party convention in May, the only major plan Youngkin released was one in February about this, also creating an "election integrity task force." The five-prong plan calls for creating a "politically independent and transparent" Department of Elections, monthly updates to voter rolls, stricter voter identification requirements, verification of mail ballot applications and returns to ensure they are "legitimate and timely," and requiring ballot counting observers and an audit of voting machines.

McAuliffe, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam's predecessor who's vying for his old job, blasted the rally as being "inspired by Donald Trump's conspiracy theory that led to a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol."

"Glenn - enough is enough. I call on you to immediately withdraw from this 'election integrity' rally and disavow this dangerous, deadly conspiracy theory once and for all. Virginians deserve a leader who will tell the truth, act with integrity, and respect the office they seek to hold," McAuliffe said in a statement Tuesday. "Glenn has shown, yet again, that he is no such leader. ... If Glenn has any respect for the truth or Virginians, he will drop out of this event immediately."

In response, Youngkin spokesperson Matt Wolking said in a statement, "Terry McAuliffe opposes requiring a photo ID to vote, which undermines the integrity of our elections and makes it easier to cheat. Glenn Youngkin will restore Virginia's photo ID law and make sure it is easy for every eligible person to vote and harder to cheat."

In Virginia, current law requires voters present a form of identification, but photo ID specifically is not required. There is broad support among the public for requiring voters to present a photo ID to cast ballots. In late June, a Monmouth University poll found that 80% of Americans support this, including about 60% of Democrats.

McAuliffe also accused Youngkin of spending "months denying that Joe Biden was duly elected president." Since winning the nomination, Youngkin has repeatedly said Biden was legitimately elected, according to a fact check done by the Poynter Institute's PolitiFact. However, the fact check also found that pre-nomination, multiple media outlets reported that Youngkin or his campaign either did not respond to questions about whether Biden was "legitimately elected" or declined to answer.

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Justice Department says former Trump DOJ officials can testify in congressional Jan. 6 probe

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(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Justice has sent letters to six former Trump DOJ officials telling them that they can participate in Congress' investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to sources and communications reviewed by ABC News.

The move is likely to remove a significant barrier that Democrats faced during Trump's presidency, when the Justice Department backed the White House's efforts to prevent any DOJ officials from testifying before their Democratic congressional committees.

At this time, no Trump-era DOJ official has indicated that they have agreed to testify in the congressional probe.

The first hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, featuring law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6, got underway Tuesday.

Earlier, those attorneys who had been asked to testify had said they would need authorization from the Justice Department, sources told ABC News.

"Department attorneys, including those who have left the Department, are obligated to protect non-public information they learned in the course of their work," reads the DOJ's letter, which was sent Monday and reviewed by ABC News. "For decades and across administrations, however, the Department has sought to balance the Executive Branch's confidentiality interests with Congress's legitimate need to gather information. The extraordinary events in this matter constitute exceptional circumstances warranting an accommodation to Congress in this case."

The letter was sent to former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, former Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, former Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia B.J. Pak, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia Bobby Christine and former Associate Deputy Attorney General Patrick Hovakimian, all of whom were requested as witnesses by House Oversight Committee.

"The extraordinary events in this matter constitute exceptional circumstances warranting an accommodation to Congress in this case," the letter said. "Congress has articulated compelling legislative interests in the matters being investigated, and the information the Committees have requested from you bears directly on Congress's interest in understanding these extraordinary events: namely, the question whether former President Trump sought to cause the Department to use its law enforcement and litigation authorities to advance his personal political interests with respect to the results of the 2020 presidential election."

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Key senators announce deal on emergency security funding for Capitol police

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(NEW YORK) — Two key senators announced a bipartisan deal on a $2.1 billion emergency security supplemental bill to send much-needed funding to Capitol Police and the National Guard, as law enforcement officers were recounting to members of the House their gripping, harrowing tales of confrontations with former President Donald Trump's supporters rioting at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The deal includes $70.7 million for Capitol Police training, equipment, overtime, more officers, hazard pay and retention bonuses; more than $521 million to the National Guard to reimburse the department for the long hours guardsmen put in guarding the Capitol in the wake of the attack; and additional funding will be allotted for making repairs to the building after rioters damaged the centuries-old historic building. There's also $35.4 million for the Capitol Police mutual aid agreements with local, state and federal law enforcement for securing the Capitol and funds to secure the Capitol complex and respond to COVID on the complex.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., told reporters that "We're going to take care of the Capitol Police, fix all the problems that need to be done here (in the building), certainly take care of the National Guard, which is critical, because they have real problems.”

The Guard has been desperate for the reimbursement, threatening to cancel training events, drills in August and September and potentially furloughing civilians.

The embattled Capitol Police, still clawing back from the Jan. 6 attacks -- enacting changes in leadership, grappling with retirements and officers walking away from the job after that harrowing day -- have said they would be out of funding by mid-August if Congress did not act.

The emergency supplemental also has $1.125 billion to cover the Afghanistan Special Immigrant Visa program -- a little less than what the White House requested -- to provide asylum to allies there who aided the U.S. mission and now face retribution from a resurgent Taliban.

Leahy has said before that the money is also designed to address the backlog of applications for the program and shortening the work requirement to one year from two, but it unclear what will be in the final deal.

The chairman said the bill could be on the floor as early as Tuesday night, but lawmakers could have a Sen. Rand Paul problem. The Kentucky Republican is opposed to awarding funds to provide asylum to Afghan interpreters and others who helped the United States in that long-fought war.

The State Department announced last week the "first tranche" of Afghans being evacuated from Afghanistan consists of 700 who worked for the U.S. military and diplomatic missions in Afghanistan and an estimated number of their family members -- bringing the total to a "ballpark" of 2,500 Afghans set to be sent to Fort Lee base in Virginia, according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

Thousands more are being moved to other cooperating countries, as well as overseas U.S. bases.

ABC News' Conor Finnegan contributed to this report.

This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

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Jan. 6 committee live updates: Police officers to recount attack at first hearing

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(WASHINGTON) -- Despite Republican opposition, the House select committee tasked with investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol holds its first hearing.

The panel will hear from law enforcement officers who defended the building, including Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn and Metropolitan Police Department officer Michael Fanone. They both lobbied lawmakers in May, alongside the family of fallen Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, to form a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate the attack -- an effort Republicans blocked in the Senate.

The House voted to form the select committee to which Speaker Nancy Pelosi has appointed eight members -- six Democrats and two Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who broke from the GOP to vote in favor of creating the panel.

Here is how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jul 27, 1:27 pm

Hearing concludes

The House select committee's first hearing featuring law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 has concluded after more than three hours.

Jul 27, 1:25 pm

Officers ask lawmakers to investigate if those in power aided rioters

Closing out the first hearing of the select committee, Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson asked the witnesses what they expect this committee to do as it begins its work.

All four officers shared the sentiment that they want an investigation into those in power who may have aided and abetted rioters.

"In the academy, we learn about time, place and circumstance in investigating potential crimes and those who may have committed them," said Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone. "So the time, the place and the circumstances of that rally, that rhetoric and those events, to me, leads in the direction of our president and other members, not only of Congress."

Metropolitan Police Department officer Daniel Hodges said his colleague hit the nail on the head, adding, "I need you guys to address if anyone in power had a role in this."

Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn used an analogy with a hitman to describe his expectations for the committee.

"If a hitman is hired and he kills somebody, the hitman goes to jail, but not only does the hitman go to jail but the person who hired them does. There was an attack carried out on Jan. 6 and a hitman sent them," he said. "I want you to get to the bottom of that."

Jul 27, 1:16 pm

Officer defends calling pro-Trump rioters 'terrorists'

Metropolitan Police Department officer Daniel Hodges, who referred to the pro-Trump mob as "terrorists" or "terrorism" at least 15 times in his opening testimony, defended using the term.

"Why do you call the attackers terrorists? And what do you think of our colleagues who call them tourists?" asked Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., referring to a comment by a GOP Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia referring to the scenes of rioters as looking like a "normal tourist visit."

"Well, if that's what American tourists are like, I can see why foreign countries don't like American tourists," Hodges said to laughter in the room.

“But I can see why someone would take issue with the title of terrorist," he continued. "It's gained a lot of notoriety in our vocabulary in the last couple of decades. We like to think that couldn't happen here. No domestic terrorism, no homegrown threats but I came prepared."

He then recited the U.S. code defining domestic terrorism as "activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws in the United States or any state. And B, to be intended too, intimidate or course a civilian population or influence policies by intimidation or coercion or to effect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping," Hodges read.

Jul 27, 12:46 pm

Capitol Police officers intently watch dramatic testimony

All over Capitol Hill, reporters have noticed that Capitol Police officers are intently watching the hearing -- as the four officers who are testifying Tuesday speak for many.

Groups of police are huddled around televisions that are stationed next to security checkpoints. Some officers have been spotted watching the hearing on their phones.

Officers were seen in the Cannon Office Building standing and watching a TV screen, with the volume on high, completely engrossed as their colleagues speak their truth of what happened that day.

-ABC News' Mariam Khan

Jul 27, 12:42 pm

Officers describe hammers, tasers, other weapons used against them

Metropolitan Police Department officer Daniel Hodges detailed the weapons used against officers that day.

"There were over 9,000 of the terrorists out there with an unknown number of firearms and a couple hundred of us, maybe. So, we could not -- if that turned into a firefight, we would have lost," he said. "And this was a fight we couldn't afford to lose."

The officers said the weapons used against them included police shields, police batons, hammers, a sledgehammer, flag poles, tasers, pepper spray, bear and wasp spray, copper pipes, rocks, table legs broken down, guardrails and cones.

"Any weapons, any items they can get their hands on," he said.

Jul 27, 12:22 pm

Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff tears up as he asks officer: 'Is this America?'

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told the witnesses that he may not have been alive today if not for their sacrifices on Jan. 6 and teared up after an emotional exchange with Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn.

He said he was haunted by Dunn asking, "Is this America?" on Jan. 6 and posed the question to Dunn himself: "Is this America, what you saw?”

"Frankly, I guess it is America. It shouldn't be. But I guess that's the way that things are," Dunn said. "It's not the side of America that I like or the side that any of us here represent. We represent the good side of America, the people that actually believe in decency and human decency and we appeal to just the good in people."

He then added he found it "encouraging" that Republican members were sitting on the panel to make it bipartisan.

"That's the side of America that I say yes, this is America. This is the side I like and acknowledge," he said.

Schiff, his voice shaking, thanked the officer who endured racial attacks on Jan. 6 and said, 'I believe in this country, and I believe in it because of people like you.”

Jul 27, 11:59 am

GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger chokes up during questioning

An emotional Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, opened his questioning by acknowledging the heaviness in the hearing room but offering praise for the witnesses.

"I think it's important to tell you, right now, though you guys may individually feel a little broken -- you guys all talked about the effects you have to deal with and you talked about the impact of that day -- but you guys won. You guys held," Kinzinger said. "Democracies are not defined by our bad days. They're defined by how we come back from bad days, how we take accountability for that."

"Serving on this committee, I'm here to investigate Jan. 6, not in spite of my membership in the Republican Party, but because of it, not to win a political fight, but to learn the facts and defend our democracy," he continued.

In an apparent nod to the loyalty some lawmakers have to the former president, Kinzinger said, "On January 6, the temptation to compromise their oath didn't come in the form of a campaign check or leadership or an all caps tweet, it came in the form of a violent mob."

Kinzinger asked all four officers if they agree with some out there who say it’s time to move on. All of them said no.

"There can be no moving on without accountability. There can be no healing until we make sure this can't happen again," said Metropolitan Police Department officer Daniel Hodges.

Jul 27, 11:38 am

Officer blasts Trump for 'hugs and kisses' comment

When Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., asked Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell to respond to former President Donald Trump saying, "It was a loving crowd, there was a lot of love in the crowd," Gonell blasted the former president and placed responsibility on him for sending the mob that attacked them.

"It’s a pathetic excuse for his behavior for something that he himself helped to create, this monstrosity," Gonell said. "I'm still recovering from those 'hugs and kisses' that day."

"If that was hugs and kisses, we should all go to his house and do the same thing to him," he added. "To me, it's insulting, it's demoralizing because everything that we did was to prevent everyone in the Capitol from getting hurt." (He later apologized for the comment, saying before answering another question, "Before I start, by no means am I suggesting that we will go to his house. I apologize for my outburst.”)

Gonell went on to counter those who claim it wasn’t Trump supporters at the Capitol to illustrate how Trump could have stopped them.

"It was not antifa, it was not Black Lives Matter, it was not the FBI. It was his supporters that he sent over to the Capitol that day. He could have done a lot of things," he said.

"He talks about sacrifices. The only thing he has sacrificed is the institutions of the country and the country itself only for his ego, because he wants the job, but he doesn't want to do the job. That's a shame on him himself," Gonell added.

Jul 27, 11:14 am

Officer tells of racial abuse from rioters

Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn recalled the racist verbal abuse he endured from rioters on Jan. 6 and, in emotional testimony, said it was the first time he had been called a racial slur in uniform.

"I'm a law enforcement officer and I do my best to keep politics out of my job, but in this circumstance I responded, well, I voted for Joe Biden, does my vote not count? Am I nobody?'" he said he said to rioters who falsely called the election stolen.

"That prompted a torrent of racial epithets," Dunn continued.

"I sat down on the bench in the rotunda with a friend of mine, who is also a Black capitol police officer and told him about the racial slurs I endured. I became very emotional and began yelling, 'How the blank could something like this happen? Is this America?'" he said. "I began sobbing."

Dunn said that in the days following the attempted insurrection, other Black officers shared similar stories of racial abuse.

Jul 27, 11:09 am

Officer recalls rioter telling him: 'You will die on your knees'

Metropolitan Police Department officer Daniel Hodges, who was crushed in a doorway on Jan. 6, recalled how he had to wrestle with one rioter who tried to take his baton and another shouted at him, "'You will die on your knees.'"

Hodges, as Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn has before, called the rioters "terrorists" throughout his testimony.

"The terrorists alternated between attempting to go break our defense and shouting at or attempting to convert us," he said.

He recounted in detail how rioters beat him while he was trapped in a doorway.

"Directly in front of me, a man seized the opportunity of my vulnerability, grabbed the front of my gas mask and used it to beat my head against the door," he said. "He never uttered any words but opted instead for guttural screams. I remember him foaming at the mouth.”

Jul 27, 10:54 am

Officer recalls mob chanting 'kill him with his own gun'

In powerful testimony, Metropolitan Police Department officer Michael Fanone, who was dragged down the Capitol steps, beaten with a flagpole and tased repeatedly on Jan. 6, recalled how rioters chanted, "kill him with his own gun" as he was being beaten and lying on the ground.

"I said as loud as I could manage ‘I've got kids,'" he testified.

Fanone didn’t hold back when calling out lawmakers who have blocked efforts for an investigation, slamming his fist on the witness table when he said, "The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful."

"I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room, but too many are now telling me that hell doesn't exist or that hell actually wasn't that bad," he said.

"Nothing, truly nothing, has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny the events of that day, and in doing so betray their oath of office," he added.

Jul 27, 10:23 am

Officer recalls how he thought he would die

Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell was the first to speak of the four officers and described the day as a scene "from a medieval battlefield."

"I could feel myself losing oxygen and recall thinking to myself 'this is how I’m going to die, trampled defending this entrance,'" he said in an emotional testimony.

Gonell described the verbal and physical attacks as horrific and devastating and recalled some of the language used that the officers say still haunt them.

"'If you shoot us, we all have weapons, and we will shoot back," or 'we will get our guns.' 'We outnumber you, join us,' they said. I also heard specific threats on the lives of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then-Vice President Mike Pence,” he recalled.

Earlier, when video of the Capitol attack played, the four uniformed witnesses fidgeted in their seats, and Gonell appeared to tear up, wiping his eyes. At one point, Metropolitan Police Department officer Michael Fanone leaned over and whispered something in his ear, clasping his shoulder.

Jul 27, 10:05 am

Cheney reminds 'our children are watching' in opening statement

In her opening statement, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said the panel's first choice was to have an independent, bipartisan commission not made up of lawmakers to investigate the attack -- but that effort was killed by Republican leadership.

"That leaves us where we are today. We cannot leave the violence of Jan. 6 and its causes uninvestigated," she said. "If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our constitutional republic."

Cheney also reminded that Republicans had "recognized the events that day for what they actually were" in the days after the attack, even if members downplay it now, but said the committee's work is just beginning.

"We must issue and enforce subpoenas promptly," she said. "We must overcome the many efforts we are already seeing to cover up and obscure the facts."

She then called out to every member of Congress to ask themselves: "Will we adhere to the rule of law, respect the rulings of our courts, and preserve the peaceful transition of power? Or will we be so blinded by partisanship that we throw away the miracle of America? Do we hate our political adversaries more than we love our country and revere our Constitution?"

She added, "I pray that we all remember, our children are watching, as we carry out the solemn and sacred duty entrusted to us. They will know who stood for truth. They will inherit the nation we hand to them -- a republic, if we can keep it."

Jul 27, 9:53 am
Chairman: 'This threat hasn't gone away'

At the end of a video with never-before-seen footage of the attack, one rioter said they'll be back, which Thompson said was a warning that "this threat hasn’t gone away" but "looms over our democracy like a dark cloud."

Thompson closed his opening statement by saying while the attack was fueled by a "vile, vile lie," his committee will be a beacon for uncovering the truth of that day.

"The rioters who tried to rob us of our democracy were propelled here by a lie. As Chairman of this Committee, I will not give that lie any fertile ground," he said.

"We cannot allow ourselves to be undone by liars and cheaters. This is the United States of America," he added.

Jul 27, 9:50 am
Chairman opens hearing with praise for officers, new video

Opening the hearing, Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said there's "no place for politics or partisanship" in their investigation and praised the police officers for testifying for the panel.

"For appearing here, and more importantly, for your heroism on Jan. 6, you have the gratitude of this committee and this country. You held the line that day, and I can’t overstate what was on the line: our democracy. You held the line," he said.

"We’re going to revisit some of those moments today, and it won’t be easy," Thompson added. "But history will remember your names and your actions."

Thompson proceeded to play video from Jan. 6 showing the officers defending the Capitol from a violent, pro-Trump mob, intermixed with their pleas to each other over their radios.

"Just describing that attack doesn’t come close to capturing what actually took place that day, so we’re going to see some of what our witnesses saw on Jan. 6," he said.

Jul 27, 9:37 am
Hearing gets underway

The House select committee’s first hearing is underway.

Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., will each deliver opening statements ahead of testimony from four police officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Cheney will speak in place of Republicans, whose ranking member would typically be given an opportunity to make opening remarks after the committee chair -- but House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy pulled his members from the panel, leaving only Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who took appointments from Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Tuesday’s hearing is expected to go two to three hours and will feature new video elements from the attack.

Jul 27, 9:35 am
Chairman: Subpoenas for Trump, Ivanka, McCarthy possible

Ahead of the hearing, Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., left the door open to subpoenas for the former president and those close to him on Jan. 6.

"Wherever the investigation leads us," Thompson told ABC News Correspondent Kyra Phillips, when asked also about subpoenas for the House GOP leader and Ivanka Trump. "We will look at who made phone calls to the White House that day, we'll look at whether or not there were any text messages, where there any emails -- all of that is part of the investigation."

Thompson said the August recess for the committee will include a lot of work and include conversations with Attorney General Merrick Garland and the White House.

"We are looking for a cooperative investigation, so whatever it takes to get that cooperation we plan to do," he said.

Jul 27, 9:26 am
Why did the committee start with police officers?

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the panel and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who briefed reporters on a call ahead of the hearing, said it was important to have the officers explain the brutality of what they confronted, with the help of video footage from that day.

Schiff said the officers can "put to rest some of the revisionist history, the effort to whitewash what took place and understand keenly the importance of getting to the truth about what led up to that insurrection and what happened thereafter."

He added, "We didn't want to compel anyone to testify that didn't want to or didn't feel that they could. A lot of those who were the most severely injured continue to struggle with the after-effects of that day, so we want to be sensitive to those concerns."

Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone, who was seen on video getting brutally attacked by rioters, told ABC News Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott he plans to testify in uniform and won't let politics surrounding the committee hinder the truth in his testimony.

Jul 27, 9:21 am
What to expect Tuesday

At Tuesday’s hearing, titled “The Law Enforcement Experience on January 6th,” the panel will hear from police officers who protected lawmakers from rioters during the assault on the Capitol and have them explain new video footage showing what they experienced that day.

Harrowing testimonies are expected from Capitol Police officers Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell and Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges of the Metropolitan Police Department.

Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., will each deliver opening statements ahead of testimony from the officers. The opening statements from police officers will each be roughly five minutes, though the committee won't be enforcing the "5-minute rule" on members and witnesses as it typically does in major hearings. There will only be one round of questions.

The hearing is expected to go two to three hours and will feature new video elements from the attack, according to a congressional aide.

Jul 27, 8:53 am
Republicans blame Pelosi for alleged security lapse ahead of hearing

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, joined by other Republican leaders and the five GOP members he appointed to the committee, held a news conference at the Capitol about an hour before the first hearing was set to began to air grievances about Reps. Jim Banks and Jim Jordan being rejected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The group attempted to place blame for Jan. 6 on Pelosi.

"The American people deserve to know the truth that Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility as speaker of the House for the tragedy that occurred on Jan. 6," said Rep. Elise Stefanik, who replaced Cheney in her No. 3 GOP leadership role earlier this year.

One reporter noted that Pelosi didn’t say the election was stolen or call her supporters to the Capitol, asking McCarthy, "So are you trying to cover up what the former president's role was on Jan. 6?"

"Nothing, we're not pre-determining any questions. We'd like to be on the committee to ask them,” he replied, before resuming his attacks on Pelosi and the Democratic-led committee.

Jul 27, 8:30 am
Rep. Liz Cheney on ABC's Good Morning America says subpoenas possible for McCarthy, Trump

With hours until the first hearing kicks off, Rep. Liz Cheney -- one of two Republicans serving on the select committee -- shot back at fellow Republicans criticizing her role in the probe, saying, "This is absolutely not a game. This is deadly serious."

”There are some in my party, including Leader McCarthy, who continue to act as though this is about partisan politics, I think it's really sad. I think it's a disgrace,” she told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

She also said subpoenas for House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and even former President Donald Trump are possible.

“The committee will go wherever we need to go to get to the facts,” she said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Trump's endorsement looms over Texas special runoff election

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly three months after the crowded race in Texas' 6th Congressional District advanced into a runoff between two Republicans -- Susan Wright and state Rep. Jake Ellzey -- the major theme of the contest remains the same: will former President Donald Trump's influence translate into victory on the campaign trail?

In April, Trump endorsed Susan Wright -- the widow of the late Congressman Ron Wright who died in February after suffering from COVID-19 and complications from cancer -- before the special election even took place. In the leadup to Tuesday's contest, Trump publicly reiterated his support for Wright in a statement, saying she "supports America First policies" which earned her his "Complete and Total Endorsement."

The former president also recorded a robo-call that was circulated online that touted Wright as "a great Republican (and) a great woman" who would carry on her husband's politically conservative legacy in Congress. Although Wright's inheritance of her late husband's congressional track record is not an unusual phenomenon in the history of campaign politics, the widow-turned-congressional-hopeful is not yet guaranteed to win outright given Ellzey's fundraising prowess.

Despite not having Trump's endorsement, Ellzey has been able to raise more than double that of Wright. As of July 7, the state congressman raised more than $1.2 million compared to Wright's $454,000, which could have helped him streamline his campaign's voter mobilization efforts ahead of Tuesday's contest.

Going into the matchup, Ellzey also has the backing of several high-profile Texas Republicans -- including former Gov. Rick Perry, who also served as energy secretary in the Trump administration, and Rep. Dan Crenshaw who represents the district bordering Houston. The pair defended Ellzey on the campaign trail after he faced weeks of attacks from the conservative, anti-tax group, the Club for Growth, through mailers and advertisements.

"Nothing irritates me more than the junk that I have seen in the mailboxes talking about him. If you want to win an election that bad, I don't want you to be my congressman," Perry said at a campaign rally for Ellzey in mid-July.

Following that rally, Club for Growth President David McIntosh issued a statement in which he praised Wright as a "principled conservative" while calling Ellzey a "serial opportunist with a record of missing votes and supporting higher taxes."

But the political back-and-forth could take a backseat to voter engagement given that special elections historically draw far fewer voters to the polls than midterm or general election cycles.

"Susan Wright is still probably the favorite based on the early judgments people made and the Trump endorsement in particular, but I think what makes it unpredictable is that Ellzey is probably a better campaigner than Susan Wright is, and in a very low turnout race -- which this is expected to be -- it's very hard to tell (who will win)," said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University who specializes in Texas politics.

Jillson predicts it will be unlikely that Independent and Democratic voters turn out in large enough numbers on what is expected to be a scorching hot day to cast their ballots in opposition to the Trump-backed candidate. Still, the uncertainty of how many voters plan to participate in an off-cycle runoff election looms over the contest.

"You don't know how many people are going to turn out. You don't know who they're going to be, (or) where they're going to be -- the northern part of the district leans toward Wright, the southern part of the district leans toward Ellzey," he said in an interview with ABC News Monday.

Regardless of who comes out on top, the outcome of Tuesday's election signals an inherent victory for congressional Republicans and will further narrow Democrats' majority in the House. The lack of an opposing party member in the running allows Republicans to focus their spending in more competitive contests in the future.

"I look forward to welcoming a new Republican colleague to Congress," National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom Emmer said in May following Wright and Ellzey's runoff advancements.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


McCarthy, Republicans on Jan. 6 committee, trade jabs ahead of 1st hearing

Jon Cherry/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — On the day before a House committee was set to open its investigation of the Jan. 6 Capitol assault, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy kept up his effort to dismiss the probe and attack the Republicans who've agreed to serve with Democrats.

When asked on Monday if he'll punish the two Republican members -- Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois -- McCarthy said "we'll see," amid speculation their fellow Republicans might try to remove them from House committee assignments for accepting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's invitation.

Speaking with reporters after a bipartisan White House even celebrating the Americans with Disabilities Act, McCarthy called them "Pelosi Republicans."

"Couldn't tell you," he said, when asked the last time he spoke to Cheney and Kinzinger.

When asked for his take on the first witnesses -- law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol against the pro-Trump mob -- McCarthy replied, "I don't know.”

Back on Capitol Hill, Cheney shot back at McCarthy.

"We've got very serious business here. We have important work to do. And I think that's pretty childish," she told reporters.

Kinzinger on Monday slammed other Republicans in response to McCarthy’s dig.

"If the conference decides, or if Kevin decides they want to punish Liz Cheney and I for getting into the bottom and telling the truth, I think that probably says more about them than it does for us," he said.

Kinzinger added his preference was the independent commission negotiated and then blocked by GOP leaders.

"It’s become obvious that there are some that just simply don’t want answers, and that to me is unacceptable," he told reporters.

Earlier Monday, committee members checked out the Cannon Office Building hearing room ahead of Tuesday's start at 9:30 a.m.

Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Cheney will each deliver opening statements in Tuesday's hearing before the police officers testify, according to a congressional aide. The committee will hear from Capitol Police Officers Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell and Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges of the Metropolitan Police Department.

Normally, the ranking member -- or top Republican -- would be given an opportunity to make opening remarks after the committee chair speaks. But Republican leaders have pulled their members from the panel, leaving only Cheney and Kinzinger as the only GOP members.

Cheney and Kinzinger are the only two House Republicans who voted to form a select committee after Senate Republicans killed a proposal for a bipartisan, independent commission. Like Cheney, Kinzinger is among the 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Trump for "incitement of insurrection."

Tuesday's hearing is expected to go two to three hours and will feature video elements, according to an aide.

McCarthy has vowed that his GOP appointments won't participate after Pelosi rejected two of them -- Republican Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio -- citing statements made and actions taken, she said, would threaten the credibility of the committee.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing Monday that President Joe Biden will be "kept abreast" of Tuesday's committee hearing.

"In his view, in our view, tomorrow's hearing will be an opportunity to hear firsthand from the men and women in the Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department who bravely protected our Capitol on that day. His goal is the same goal that Speaker Pelosi has, which is to get to the bottom of what happened and prevent it from happening in the future, and he trusts her leadership to do exactly that," she said.

Dunn, one of the police officers who is scheduled to testify Tuesday, tweeted out Monday asking for "good vibes.”

Mark Zaid, the whistleblower attorney who is also representing Dunn, late last week posted this Twitter thread flagging that after Fox News host Tucker Carlson attacked Dunn on his show as an "angry left-wing political activist" he received "numerous vile/racist" messages, with some citing Carlson's comments.

Fanone, an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department who was brutally attacked by rioters on Jan. 6, video shows, told ABC News Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott that he plans to testify in uniform Tuesday and said he won't let politics hinder his appearance.

“I don’t get care what the vehicle is — as long as the truth comes out,” he said, when asked about Republicans who are throwing cold water on the committee. Fanone was at the Capitol Monday to prepare for the hearing.

He added, he supports any investigation that is looking for a "factual account" of what happened that day.

Back in May, Fanone and Dunn escorted the family of fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick door-to-door on Capitol Hill pleading with Republicans for an independent commission.

ABC News's Justin Gomez contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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