House Minority Leader Hakeem Jefferies has renominated two California Democrats to serve on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, leading to a clash with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy over the committee’s assignments he vowed to block.
In the most recent Congress, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) led the committee, and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) led the Intelligence Update and Readiness Subcommittee, but McCarthy has long pointed out that Schiff, Swalwell, and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) will lose her duties on the committee if he becomes chair.
His threat followed moves by his predecessor Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), Democrats and a few Republicans to strip Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) of their committee assignments when the Democrats were in control.
“I understand that you intend to depart from the House’s long-established tradition of respecting the recommendations of the Minority Party Intelligence Committee and refusing to grant seats to Ranking Member Schiff and Representative Swalwell,” Jeffries wrote in a letter to McCarthy over the weekend. “Refusing to have seats for duly elected members of the House Democratic Caucus runs counter to the serious and sober mission of the Intelligence Committee.”
Jeffries noted that Green and Josar were removed from their commission assignments in the last Congress “after a bipartisan vote in the House found them unfit to serve on standing committees for direct incitement to violence against their colleagues.”
Green was removed from her commission in February 2021 for racist rhetoric and support for violence against Democrats. Gosar faced a similar punishment in November 2021 after he posted, and later deleted, a cartoon video with his face superimposed on a character killing someone with the face of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DNY) and wielding swords against President Biden.
“It is not considered a precedent or justification for the removal of Representatives Schiff and Swalwell, given that they never demonstrated violent thoughts or behavior,” Jefferies said.
McCarthy Schiff, the lead manager during President Trump’s first impeachment trial, has been accused of “lying” to the public about some details of the whistleblower report that launched the investigation, and dismissing emails found on a laptop allegedly owned by Hunter Biden a Russian ploy .
McCarthy argued that Swalwell was unable to obtain security clearance in the private sector after a report that he had been targeted by a suspected Chinese spy, with whom he subsequently severed ties.
In a letter earlier this month to the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, Schiff wrote, “It is not for Kevin McCarthy to decide to remove members from committees on the grounds of defamation and falsehoods. Whether that means Ilhan Omar, Eric Swalwell, or me, there is no basis.” for threatening him with retaliation other than to appease the most extreme members of his party.”
In a separate letter, Swalwell similarly said “It is not for the Speaker to decide to remove members from committees on the basis of fabricated stories or political revenge”.
McCarthy’s office declined to comment on Monday.
McCarthy has the power to unilaterally refuse Democratic nominees to serve on the Intelligence Committee because the speaker has the final say on the membership of select committees.
Removing Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee requires a full vote. Threats to remove Omar from the committee came after anti-Semitic comments she made, for which she later apologized.
Green will serve on the Homeland Security Committee, Gosar will serve on the Natural Resources Committee and both will take a seat on the Committee on Oversight and Accountability.
Green became a key McCarthy ally and pushed fellow conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus to support his bid for speaker, which ultimately required 15 votes over four days. Gosar started voting for McCarthy on the twelfth ballot.