A source with knowledge of the panel’s internal deliberations said the postponement of what would be the committee’s ninth public session will allow one of the nine select committee members, Representative Stephanie Murphy, to tend to any matters that arise in her Florida district due to the approaching storm.
In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, select committee chairman Representative Bennie Thompson and the panel’s vice-chair, Representative Liz Cheney, said: “In light of Hurricane Ian bearing down on parts of Florida, we have decided to postpone tomorrow’s proceedings. We’re praying for the safety of all those in the storm’s path”.
They added that the panel’s investigation into the Capitol attack “goes forward” and said they would “soon announce” a date for a rescheduled hearing.
Currently a category 3 hurricane, Ian is expected to make landfall this week along Florida’s west coast and could cause significant damage to parts of the Sunshine State that have not been affected by a hurricane in roughly a century.
The news of the delay of the panel’s next hearing comes just hours after President Joe Biden said his administration is already moving to assist Florida authorities in their response to the storm.
Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, Mr Biden warned that experts are calling the storm one that could be a “very severe hurricane” with a “life-threatening and devastating” impact and said he wanted to make clear that his administration is “on alert and in action to help the people of Florida”.
The president said he had approved a disaster declaration for Florida “immediately upon receiving” a request for one from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and said he has spoken with mayors in Tampa, St Petersburg, and Clearwater.
“They're focused on the safety of their communities and they're doing everything they can to get people out of harm's way,” he said. He added that he’d told each of the mayors that they can contact him directly for “whatever they need”.
“I have a lot of personnel down there already. We're here to support them in every way we can,” he said.