In July Rep. Elaine Luria was named to the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Insurrection at U.S. Capitol. 

The 2nd District congresswoman is a retired Commander in the Navy who served for 20 years. She spoke about the investigation, threats to the country and her disagreements with President Joe Biden.

The Jan. 6 investigation

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection requested information from a sitting member of Congress – Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Scott Perry – about his role in events around the attack. 

The committee continues to seek documents and interviews from political operatives and former officials from Donald Trump’s administration.

“It is truly a group that is working 100% in the same direction towards the same goal,” Luria said about the committee. “It is not an attempt to go after one particular individual… It's truly for wanting to preserve our democratic system.”

Luria said members are building a timeline of the insurrection that starts before Election Day and piecing together communication between the participants, trying to discover “who was driving this train.”

Current issues leading to civil conflict

Three retired military officers recently wrote in a published opinion piece that what happened on Jan. 6 was a warning – and the next presidential election could trigger a civil war.

Luria called it “chilling,” and said it reflected conversations she’s had with military officials – retired and on active duty – about how dangerous the insurrection could have been.

At a hearing and in discussions with colleagues, she said she learned people were floating ideas on social media about suppressing the vote or deploying the National Guard to the polls.

Many of these plans, she said, were serious attempts. 

“So that's incredibly dangerous,” she added. “And I think it's really an important role of this committee is to make sure that we can identify those things and sort of the vulnerabilities that exist within our system.”

President Joe Biden’s budget

The United States also faces threats from what Luria called “rising competition with China.”

She criticized the Biden administration’s proposed military budget, calling it inadequate to meet those challenges.

Earlier this year the Biden administration requested $715 billion in funding for the Pentagon for fiscal 2022, which held the rate of spending flat when accounting for inflation.

The House Armed Services Committee pushed back, endorsing $24 billion more than requested. Luria is the committee’s vice-chair.

“We really need to make sure that we're putting adequate resources into the Department of Defense and especially the Navy,” she said. 

“And that's not to say that for a parochial reason, because of Hampton Roads or because of my 20 years of service in the Navy. I mean, if you look at the theater in the Pacific... a preponderance of resources need to go to the Navy and the Air Force to deal with the rising competition and really the gray zone conflict that's going on every single day with regards to China.”

Gray zone conflicts occur when a country takes non-military but sometimes hostile actions. Luria cited the Chinese use of disguised fishing boats to gather intelligence as an example.

Chinese naval activities also have a direct impact on the potential for trade in Hampton Roads, she added.

“We're here at the third largest port on the East Coast,” she said. “he ability that we have had to grow our global economies and foster trade in a global way that we have is based off of the stability that a navy provides. The United States Navy has been the preeminent navy along with our allies and… we really need to increase that partnership in the Pacific in order to not allow China … to take the upper hand."