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Kevin McCarthy made a major mistake in 2021. House Dems won’t repeat it.

Kevin McCarthy hastily made a decision not to seat any GOP members on the House Jan. 6 committee — to his party’s detriment.


It’s widely understood at this point that Kevin McCarthy erred mightily in 2021 when he effectively boycotted the House Jan. 6 committee by pulling all five Republicans he had picked for the panel.

His short-sighted furor followed then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s rejection of two of his picks for the committee, Reps. Jim Jordan and Jim Banks, because both had voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

McCarthy clearly thought caping for Jordan and Banks would earn him some credibility in right-wing circles. But ultimately, his refusal to seat anyone on the committee unless his far-right pals went along for the ride prevented the GOP from gaining much insight into the committee’s inner workings (even though it did have two members on the committee). 

Even former President Donald Trump reportedly came to loathe McCarthy’s decision. CNN, Politico and The Washington Post all published articles last summer citing sources who said Trump had become furious during the Jan. 6 hearings, watching as the committee dropped bombshell after bombshell with no MAGA Republicans around to defend him.  

“I don’t understand why Kevin didn’t put anyone on the committee,” Trump said, according to a CNN source

Democrats won’t make that mistake in this congressional term. House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar ​explained why in an interview with Politico this week:  

Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), who’d been a member of the Jan. 6 committee, said his party had learned it was a “mistake” for McCarthy not to seat people on that select panel. “You’ll see, even if we disagree with the subjects and the agenda, I think you’re gonna see us engage and tell the American public exactly what Republicans would try to do behind closed doors without us,” Aguilar said.

McCarthy’s stupidity is the gift that keeps on giving. I remember having a similar thought back in 2015, when McCarthy openly linked the Benghazi hearings to Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers, suggesting Republicans were using the hearings to harm her presidential campaign. What a privilege it is for Democrats to face a foe so prone to political self-injury, so likely to step in manure at every juncture.

McCarthy, now House speaker, is a case study in bad governance. And Democrats are taking notes. Republicans have made their conspiracy theory-driven agenda clear, and they’ve taken steps to act on it with the announcement of dubious investigations and the formation of a committee to probe the so-called weaponization of the federal government against Republicans. (Another bit of irony from the party whose leader was found to have fomented the Jan. 6 violence.)

Aguilar’s remarks show Democrats understand that even if the committees are doing things Democrats denounce, the insight they could gain through participation is invaluable, especially if they want to rebut Republicans’ claims.

Unlike McCarthy in 2021, they’re not going to give up that power in a fit of rage.