My Turn, Roger Barbee: Ability of 117th Congress to govern an open question

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 17, 2023

117th Congress

Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania is quoted as saying that he should not recuse himself from any Republican investigation of the committee that just investigated the Insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021.

Perry explains: “Why should I be limited just because someone has made an accusation? Everybody in America is innocent until proven guilty.”

When pressed that his participation in a new committee investigating a committee of which he refused its subpoena would pose a conflict, Perry offered, “So, should everybody in Congress that disagrees with somebody be barred from doing the oversight and investigative powers that Congress has? That’s our charge,” Perry said.

I agree with Perry that up to now all that has been leveled against him and other members of the House are accusations. After all, the only “evidence” against Perry and those other potential domestic terrorists come from a multitude of workers in the 45th Republican president’s White House. So when it is written in the exhaustive January 6 Report that Perry recommended more than once to Mark Meadows that Jeffrey Clark be named acting attorney general because he would “do what is necessary” and that he requested a pardon from the 45th president and he voted not to certify the electoral count of President Biden, questions arise.

Perry, like some other House members, including the newly elected Speaker, had ample opportunity to testify under oath before the January 6 Committee. He could have done this not to justify the committee that he opposed, but to clear his name by explaining (under oath) his involvement or non-involvement in the conspiracy to overthrow our government. Instead he stonewalled and refused a rightful subpoena. (Lest we forget, in October of 2015, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sat for an 11-hour questioning by the Benghazi Select Committee led by Rep. Trey Gowdy). So why could Perry have not simply come forth and answered the questions about his actions and clear his name? He could have testified under oath and explained why he allegedly wanted an unqualified person like Clark to be appointed attorney general and why on earth he desired a presidential pardon? But he did not and the question “why not?” looms over him — and the other members of the House.

During the voting process for a new House Speaker, I heard Perry make nominations for Speaker. He and others that the January 6 Committee have accused of being insurrectionists spoke platitudes of their various nominees. One of those nominees was arrested in 1997 for marijuana distribution and in 2000, the same Florida representative pleaded guilty to a felony bribery charge as part of a scheme to defraud a bank. The charges for dope distribution were dropped as part of a pre-trial diversion program and the felony record was later sealed and expunged. (Gads, Jeffrey Epstein is not the only Florida criminal to get off easy.)

Another nominee from Ohio is discussed in the January 6 Report as being in contact with the 45th president constantly on Jan. 6, 2021, and the newly elected Speaker publicly thanked the 45th president for his aid in getting elected on the 15th ballot.

Much has been written and said about the battle for a new Speaker and the whittling down from 20 to six staunch voters against McCarthy for the position. Some harsh words about the remaining six opponents have been uttered and fears of how they will influence the coming House session abound in the news. While that is true and of concern, what about the others? The 139 Republican members of the last House voted against the certification of President Biden and most of those are still members. Many present members still support the big lie of the 45th president. And these are the folks who want to investigate the politicization of the FBI and Justice Department and possibly impeach President Biden.

The Speaker has agreed to form a new COVID Committee, but its task is not to protect Americans from the surging virus but to investigate Dr. Fauci and the origins of COVID in 2020. And there is always Hunter Biden to be looked at deeply.

This 117th Congress is of concern and its ability to govern is a just question for many reasons. However, its governance ability should not be scrutinized just because of the so-called “crazies” or “rebels” that many fear will railroad the Republican-led majority. The 117th Congress is fearful because the old American idiom that “the fox is guarding the henhouse” has never been truer.


Roger Barbee lives in Mooresville. Contact him at