House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday night rejected the reappointments of Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both D-Calif., to the powerful House Intelligence Committee — fulfilling a promise McCarthy made even before he won the gavel.
The committee has special rules that allow the speaker to assign its members in consultation with the minority leader.
While the minority party’s recommendations have typically been seated, McCarthy has the power to decline to seat members without relying on a full floor vote of the chamber.
In a letter sent to House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, McCarthy cast his decision as one of “integrity,” suggesting that Schiff and Swalwell would weaken the committee on which they had served until January.
“I cannot put partisan loyalty ahead of national security, and I cannot simply recognize years of service as the sole criteria for membership on this essential committee. Integrity matters more,” McCarthy wrote.
The speaker argued that the “misuse of this panel during the 116th and 117th Congress severely undermined its primary national security and oversight missions — ultimately leaving our nation less safe.”
In pledging to keep Swalwell and Schiff off of House committees in this Congress, McCarthy has cited their past conduct: In Swalwell’s case, because of his reported run-ins with an alleged Chinese spy, though Swalwell wasn’t accused of any wrongdoing; and for Schiff, because of what McCarthy has said was his promotion of a disputed dossier about Donald Trump and Russia.
Jeffries said in a letter to McCarthy over the weekend that both Democrats were “eminently qualified” to continue to serve.
Moments before McCarthy’s decision was announced on Tuesday, Schiff told reporters that McCarthy was “trying to dictate to Democrats who can sit and who can lead Democrats on the Intelligence Committee.”
“It goes to the weakness of his speakership that he has to rely on these fraudsters and these QAnon conspiracy theorists,” Schiff said when asked if it was hypocritical to remove him while elevating Republicans like firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia to the House Oversight Committee and giving embattled Rep. George Santos of New York some low-level committee assignments.
On Twitter, Swalwell pushed back on McCarthy’s criticism of him, calling it false, and wrote: “He can keep me off Intel, but I’m not going away.”
Schiff echoed that, tweeting, “This is petty, political payback for investigating Donald Trump. If he thinks this will stop me, he will soon find out just how …read more