Speaker Kevin McCarthy has barred two Democrats from serving on a key House panel: NPR
Manuel Balse Cheneta/AP
Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell accused House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of “political retaliation” for blocking California Democrats from serving on the House Intelligence Committee.
“I think this is an unexpected but devastating move by Kevin McCarthy,” Schiff said at a news conference Wednesday morning.
McCarthy rejected a request by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries to keep Schiff and Swalwell on the committee. Both members previously served on the panel — Schiff served as chair from 2019 to 2022 — and both were involved in the investigation and impeachment of former President Donald Trump.
The move comes as the new Republican majority lays out plans and priorities for the session aimed at scrutinizing and investigating President Biden’s administration.
As Speaker of the House, McCarthy has the power to approve or reject seats on the Intelligence Committee because it is a “select” committee, and seats on standing committees ultimately require a vote of the House. Republicans who supported the move cited former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to include several members of the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
year Letter to Jeffreys, McCarthy said the Schiff-led Intelligence Committee “severely undermined the core missions of national security and surveillance and ultimately made our nation less secure.” On Tuesday, McCarthy referred to the report Swalwell was targeted by a Chinese spy in 2014.
“These members will have other committees, but the intelligence committee is different. The Intelligence Committee’s responsibility is America’s national security,” he said.
Under new Republican leadership, the House Intelligence Committee is expected to investigate classified documents found at Biden’s homes in Delaware and Washington, DC, collusion between the FBI and social media companies, the origins of COVID-19 and other politically controversial issues.
Schiff told reporters Tuesday that he sees the move as purely political.
While McCarthy believes blocking Schiff and Swalwell is in the national security interest, Democrats say the move is nothing more than political punishment.
“His opposition is that I was the lead impeacher when Donald Trump was first impeached, and we held him responsible for withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid from Ukraine,” Schiff said. “So I think he’s trying to get me off the intelligence committee now, and he’s doing dirty water for the former president.”
But, Schiff added, “If McCarthy thinks this will prevent me from impeaching him, impeaching Donald Trump, or any of the more extreme elements of his medicine, he’s wrong.”
Schiff is now expected to serve on the House Judiciary Committee, according to a source familiar with the discussions but not authorized to speak publicly.
McCarthy is also considering a vote to bar Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., from serving on the Foreign Affairs Committee for his comments about Israel, which have drawn criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike.
The Democratic-led House voted to remove two far-right members of the GOP — Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona — from their 2021 committee duties. At the time, McCarthy’s minority leader had warned that Republicans might take over. similar action. when they regained the majority.
“Once you set a precedent and we warn them about it, it can backfire,” said Rep. Tom Cole, chairman of the rules committee. “I think that’s what the Democrats did themselves.”
NPR’s Claudia Grisales contributed to this report.
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