House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday suggested the House might hold hearings on the deaths of two African American men, after grand juries declined to charge the white police officers who killed them.
Asked his thoughts on whether the Justice Department should investigate the deaths of Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y., and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in light of local grand juries declining to charge the police officers responsible for their deaths, Boehner said both cases have left him with unanswered questions.
He noted that one of his top lieutenants, House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, has already called for congressional hearings into the matter, and said that could happen.
"My colleague Cathy McMorris Rodgers earlier today suggested that there may need to be hearings," Boehner said. "I'm not going to rule that in or out, but I do think the American people deserve more answers about what really happened here and was our system of justice handled properly.
"Clearly both of these are serious tragedies that we've seen in our society, and I think the American people want to understand more of what the facts were," he added. "There are a lot of unanswered questions that Americans have and frankly I have."
The deaths and lack of prosecutions have touched off widespread protests around the country, including in Washington, D.C., and members of the Congressional Black Caucus have taken to the House floor to protest what they see as racism in the justice system.
Other members have defended the actions of the police officers in each case, and called the protests and rioting following the grand jury dismissals disgraceful.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daniel Newhauser is a staff correspondent for National Journal, where he primarily covers the House of Representatives. He was formerly a House leadership reporter for Roll Call, where he started as an intern in 2010 and quickly earned a slot as a beat reporter.
A native of San Antonio, Texas, Newhauser traveled further West to study journalism at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and write for newspapers including the East Valley Tribune and the Green Valley News & Sun.