Jim Banks

Jim Banks

GOSHEN — As Indiana Congressman Jim Banks apparently prepares to take an adversarial role on the U.S. House committee to investigate the Capitol insurrection in January, Democrats in the state are taking issue with the selection.

Both sides spoke on Banks’ inclusion.

Banks, whose district covers much of northeast Indiana, led a list of five Republicans who were recommended to sit on the select congressional committee. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy announced the appointments Monday in a signal the GOP would be willing to participate in the probe, according to an Associated Press report.

The 13-person select committee was created in the Democrat-led House last month to investigate the events of January 6, when supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building and interrupted the process to certify President Joe Biden’s election to office. Most Republicans opposed the panel’s formation.

The AP noted the Republicans McCarthy named to the committee — Banks, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong and Texas Rep. Troy Nehls — are also all supporters of Trump.

“Indiana Democrats view Banks’ selection as a partisan stunt to collude against the committee, which is focused on solving the domestic terrorist attack,” the Indiana Democratic Party said in a statement Tuesday. “We believe this is disqualifying for any legitimate elected official who cares about the national security of the United States.”

State Democrats spoke out after Banks released a statement on his appointment Monday night via Twitter. He asserted he and the other Republican would force Democrats and the media to look into “ignored” questions that he said include why the Capitol was unprepared and vulnerable on Jan. 6.

Banks also indicated they would want to see the investigation’s scope expanded to cover the protests and demonstrations that occurred in cities nationwide throughout 2020.

“If Democrats were serious about investigating political violence, this committee would be studying not only the January 6 riot at the Capitol, but also the hundreds of violent political riots last summer when many more innocent Americans and law-enforcement officers were attacked,” Banks said in the statement, though without naming the Black Lives Matter movement.

Banks also alleged the select committee was created as a partisan attack against conservatives.

“Make no mistake, (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi created this committee solely to malign conservatives and to justify the Left’s authoritarian agenda,” Banks stated. “I will do everything possible to give the American people the facts about the lead up to January 6, the riot that day, and the responses to Capitol leadership and the Biden administration. I will not allow this committee to be turned into a forum for condemning millions of Americans because of their political beliefs.”

His office did not respond to a request by The Goshen News to discuss the appointment further.

Indiana Democrats, calling him a “partisan demagogue,” accused Banks of helping stir up protesters in Washington, D.C. shortly before the Capitol was stormed.

“Banks is as responsible for the domestic terror attack on the U.S. Capitol as other Republican Party leaders because he voted to end American democracy and then encouraged insurrectionists to show up at the U.S. Capitol just hours before one of the country’s darkest days occurred,” Lauren Ganapini, the state party’s executive director, said in the statement.

Banks, Jordan and Nehls were among the Republicans who voted to overturn Biden’s certification, even after the rioting, the AP said.

Among his tweets on January 6, Banks had called for arrests among the insurrectionists.

“Peaceful protest is healthy, but what is happening at the U.S. Capitol right now is unacceptable and un-American,” Banks tweeted. “Those participating in lawlessness and violence must be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Banks’ appointment to the committee is not a sure thing yet. Under committee rules, Pelosi has to approve the names McCarthy submitted before they’re final, the AP said. When her decision will be made is reportedly unclear.

Banks, a Columbia City native, was elected to office in 2016 and represents Indiana’s third district. It covers much of northeast Indiana, including LaGrange and Noble counties, as well as a portion of Kosciusko County. The district also encompasses Allen County, where Fort Wayne is located, as well as Steuben, DeKalb, Whitley, Huntington, Wells, Adams and Jay counties, and a portion of Blackford county.

Among his assignments, Banks chairs the Republican Study Committee and serves on the House’s Armed Services, Veterans’ Affairs, and Education and Labor committees.

Aimee Ambrose can be reached at aimee.ambrose@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 240316. Follow her on Twitter at @aambrose_TGN.

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