House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries reappointed two California Democrats to serve on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and ran a clash with Speaker Kevin McCarthy over committee assignments he has promised to block.
At the last Congress, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) chaired the committee, and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) chaired its subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness, but McCarthy has long signaled that Schiff, Swalwell and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) would lose his committee assignments if he became speaker.
His threat followed moves by his predecessor, Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), Democrats and some Republicans to strip Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) on their committee duties when Democrats were in control.
“As far as I know, you intend to break with the long-standing tradition in the House of Representatives of following the recommendations of the Minority Party Intelligence Committee and refusing the seats to senior Member Schiff and Rep. Swalwell,” Jeffries wrote in a letter to McCarthy over the weekend. “Denying seats to duly elected members of the House Democratic Caucus runs counter to the Intelligence Committee’s earnest and sober mission.”
Jeffries noted that Greene and Gosar were removed from their committee duties in the last Congress “after a bipartisan vote by the House of Representatives found them unfit to serve on standing committees for directly inciting violence against their peers.”
Greene was removed from her committee duties in February 2021 for racist rhetoric and supporting anti-Democrat violence. Gosar faced a similar punishment in November 2021 after posting and later deleting a cartoon video in which his face was superimposed on a character killing someone with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) stands and brandishes swords at President Biden.
“It does not serve as precedent or justification for the removal of Representatives Schiff and Swalwell because they have never displayed violent thoughts or behavior,” Jeffries said.
McCarthy has accused Schiff, the senior executive during President Trump’s first impeachment, of “lying” to the public about certain details surrounding a whistleblower report that sparked the investigation and emails linked to a Laptop allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden found as having “lied” was a Russian ruse.
McCarthy has argued that Swalwell was unable to obtain security clearance in the private sector after reports that he was targeted by a suspected Chinese spy, with whom he later severed ties.
In a letter earlier this month to the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, Schiff wrote that “it is not up to Kevin McCarthy to decide to remove committee members based on slander and untruth. Whether that means Ilhan Omar or Eric Swalwell or myself, there is no basis for his threatened retaliation other than to placate the most extreme members of his party.”
In a separate letter, Swalwell similarly said that it “is not for the Speaker to decide to remove members from committees based on fabricated stories or political revenge”.
McCarthy’s office declined to comment Monday.
On Monday night, McCarthy announced the GOP members who will serve on the Intelligence Committee, including the newly added MP. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita.) The spokesman gave no indication of when he would announce his decision on the panel’s Democratic members.
McCarthy has the power to unilaterally oppose Democrats nominated to serve on the intelligence panel because the Speaker has the final say on membership on select committees.
Removing Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee would require a full vote. Threats to remove Omar from the panel followed anti-Semitic comments she made, for which she later apologized.
Greene will serve on the Homeland Security Committee, Gosar on the Natural Resources Committee, and both will have a seat on the Oversight and Accountability Committee.
Greene became a top McCarthy ally, urging her Conservative colleagues in the House Freedom Caucus to support his bid for Speaker, which ultimately required 15 votes over four days. Gosar began voting for McCarthy on the 12th ballot.