This week: Jan. 6 hearings resume, House takes up abortion bills
House lawmakers are returning from a two-week recess to a jam-packed schedule this week, with Jan. 6 hearings resuming on Tuesday and a pair of abortion-related bills awaiting consideration.
On the Jan. 6 front, the House select committee investigating last year’s Capitol riot will hold two hearings, one reportedly in primetime, as the panel continues to make its case to the American public that former President Trump was at the center of a conspiracy to keep himself in power.
The chamber is also slated to take up two bills to protect access to abortion, more than two weeks after the Supreme Court released a ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.
Additionally, the House is set to vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and a bill to create a communications network that would notify individuals when an active shooter is in their community. The alert system legislation failed to pass the House last month.
On the Senate side, lawmakers are scheduled to vote on a number of nominations for various posts, including President Biden’s pick for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
Jan. 6 hearings
The Jan. 6 select committee is slated to hold two more public hearings this week, marking the first presentation since former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone testified behind closed doors on Friday.
Members of the panel have said that parts of Cipollone’s testimony will be shown during this week’s presentations.
Tuesday’s hearing, scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., will focus on the role far-right extremist groups — including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers — played in carrying out the Capitol attack, and examine if the Trump officials or allies were coordinating with the organizations in the lead up to the riot.
The committee has not yet announced the live witness list, but NBC News reported Sunday night that a former spokesperson for the Oath Keepers, Jason Van Tatenhov, will offer testimony before the panel on Tuesday.
A source familiar with the plans told the network that while Tatenhov was not a member of the far-right group, he is likely to discuss how the group has become radicalized over the years. His testimony is also expected to detail how the organization’s founder, Stewart Rhodes, took advantage of conspiracy theories to bolster its membership and financing.
Rhodes and 10 other members of the Oath Keepers were charged with seditious conspiracy in January for the alleged role they played in the Capitol riot. In June, the Department of Justice charged Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and four other members with seditious conspiracy.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), a member of the Jan. 6 committee, told CNN on Sunday that the panel is “going to be connecting the dots during these hearings between these groups and those who are trying to — in government circles to overturn the election,” referring to the far-right militia groups.
Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who is leading Tuesday’s proceedings with Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), told CBS News on Sunday that the hearing will also include information about the White House meeting that took place on Dec. 18, 2020 with lawyer Sidney Powell, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and others.
During that huddle, the group reportedly discussed seizing voting machines, and Powell previously told the committee that Trump asked her to serve as special counsel for election issues.
“One of the things that people are gonna learn is the fundamental importance of a meeting that took place in the White House on December the 18th,” Raskin said.
Thursday’s primetime hearing, which has not yet been formally announced but has been reported by multiple outlets, is expected to focus on what Trump was doing from the time the riot began up until he posted a video on Twitter urging the participants to go home.
What went on during that span of time — roughly 187 minutes — remains largely unknown.
“What we want to show the American people was what was the president doing during that time,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who is said to be leading Thursday’s hearing with Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), told ABC News on Sunday when asked about the proceedings.
“The rest of the country knew that there was an insurrection. The president obviously had to have known there was an insurrection. So where was he? What was he doing?”
The House is set to consider two pro-abortion rights bills this week after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that made access to the medical procedure a constitutional right.
The bench released the decision on June 24, the same day that House lawmakers left Washington for a two-week recess. In a statement on Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that the chamber would vote on two pieces of legislation this week.
The first bill, dubbed the Women’s Health Protection Act, would codify abortion rights into federal law and bolster protections that were guaranteed by the Roe decision. The House previously passed the bill in September, with all Democrats except one voting in favor of the measure, but it later failed in the Senate twice because of GOP opposition.
The second piece of legislation would ensure that women are permitted to to receive an abortion if their state bans the medical procedure.
The House is likely to clear the bills, since Democrats hold the majority in the chamber, but both measures face headwinds in the Senate, where at least 60 Republicans are needed to overcome a filibuster.
Some Senate Democrats have called for nixing the filibuster for abortion bills, a move that is unlikely to happen since some in the party — namely Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — are against changing the rules.
Despite the bleak outlook in the Senate, House Democrats are intent on clearing the legislation.
“We have a sacred, fundamental duty to expand freedom in America, not to roll back fundamental rights,” Pelosi said in a statement. “While Republicans seek to criminalize reproductive health care nationwide, House Democrats will never relent in our fight to defend freedom for women and for every American.”
House to vote on NDAA, active shooter alert system bill
The House is set to vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week, after the Armed Services Committee and Appropriations Committee approved their versions of the annual defense policy bill.
The Senate Armed Services Committee approved its version of the bill last month. Once the House clears the measure, lawmakers from both chambers will then negotiate to come up with a final, combined deal on the legislation.
The House is also slated to consider the Active Shooter Alert Act, which calls for creating a communications network that would alert individuals when an active shooter is in the area.
The chamber held a vote on the measure last month under suspension of the rules, a fast-track process that allows legislation to be passed if it has two-thirds support. The bill, however, failed to pass despite having bipartisan sponsorship.
This week, the House will consider the measure after it first goes through the Rules Committee. A simple majority vote will be needed for passage.
After the bill failed to pass last month, Pelosi teased another vote.
“Our House Democratic Majority will take up this legislation again and pass it — making clear that Democrats are on the side of protecting our families and supporting our courageous first responders,” she wrote in a statement the night the measure failed.
Senate to vote on nominations
The Senate is scheduled to vote on a number of nominations this week, as it returns to Washington on Monday following a two-week holiday recess.
Among those up for consideration is Steve Dettelbach, who President Biden nominated to serve as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) in April. The president tapped him for the job after pulling the nomination of David Chipman in September, since he could not garner enough support in the Senate.
The ATF has not had a Senate-confirmed director since 2015.
The vote comes on the heels of a number of mass shootings that have drawn headlines in the U.S. Most recently, a gunman opened fire at a July 4 parade in Highland Park, Illinois, killing seven people and injuring several others.
But not all senators will be in attendance when the chamber reconvenes from recess on Monday.
Late Sunday night, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) spokesperson announced that the New York Democrat had tested positive for COVID-19. He is fully vaccinated, has been boosted twice and is experiencing mild symptoms.
The spokesperson said Schumer will “continue with his robust schedule and remain in near constant contact with his colleagues” on the phone and through virtual meetings.
Additionally, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is still recovering after breaking his hip in June. His office announced last week that the Vermont Democrat was released from the hospital following hip replacement surgery.
Leahy spokesperson David Carle did, however, tell Punchbowl News that the senator’s “recovery and physical therapy are proceeding well and he expects to be available for votes this week if necessary.” But the outlet noted that his vote may not be needed because Dettelbach has some GOP support.
–Updated at 9:22 a.m.