WASHINGTON— Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday blocked two Democrats from seats on the House Intelligence Committee and filled out the GOP rosters of newly created select committees charged with investigating the government’s politicization and the origins of the Covid pandemic.
McCarthy made good on his promise to let former House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell – both California Democrats – from serving on that panel.
In a letter to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, McCarthy said that while he appreciated the “loyalty” the Democratic leader showed to his colleagues, he could not put “partisan loyalty above national security.”
“Hakeem Jeffries has 200 other people who can serve on that committee,” McCarthy told reporters earlier Tuesday, noting that as a speaker he has the authority to reject nominees for special panels like the Intelligence Committee.
In addition to keeping Schiff and Swalwell away from the Intelligence Committee, McCarthy previously said he intended Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., To be removed from the Foreign Affairs Committee.
In a joint statement Tuesday, the three Democrats said, “It is disappointing but not surprising that Kevin McCarthy has capitulated to the right wing of his caucus, undermining the integrity of Congress while harming our national security.”
The group accused McCarthy of making “a corrupt deal in his desperate and near-failed bid to win the Speakership, one that required political revenge against the three of us,” while pledging to continue to speak out about extremism as they made efforts to “staunchly defend our democracy.”
McCarthy on Tuesday also named GOP members of two committees formed by Republicans after they seized control of the House.
The “Weaponization of the Federal Government” committee, which will investigate Republican allegations that the Justice Department, FBI and other law enforcement agencies are being armed to investigate conservatives such as former President Donald Trump, will include Representatives Chip Roy of Texas and and Dan. Bishop of North Carolina — two of 21 conservative holdouts who initially blocked McCarthy during the five-day battle for the gavel this month.
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., who supported McCarthy but has caused headaches for GOP leadership in the past, was also given a seat on the panel.
Meanwhile, McCarthy named Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who had been suspended from social media platforms for promoting misinformation about Covid, to the select committee on the coronavirus pandemic. Rep. Ronny Jackson, a Texas Republican who served as White House physician to Trump, also received the nomination for the Covid panel.
Jeffries will now have the opportunity to nominate Democratic members to the special panels.
The Armament Commission
Republicans have said the new Arms Commission will investigate GOP allegations that the Justice Department, FBI and other law enforcement agencies are being armed to investigate conservatives, including Trump. One case the panel will look into is last year’s FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s home and resort in Florida, when agents attempted to retrieve classified material.
“The government has a responsibility to serve the American people, not go after them,” McCarthy said in a statement. “Unfortunately, throughout the one-party Democrats in Washington, we saw a dangerous pattern of using the government to attack political opponents while neglecting their most basic responsibilities.”
Because the panel is a special subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, panel chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who regularly clashes with the Democrats, will lead the weapons investigations.
Other notable choices for the panel include Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., a former chairman of the Oversight Committee who launched aggressive investigations into the Obama administration more than a decade ago.
Freshman Rep. Harriet Hageman, R-Wyo., who last year served as Rep. Liz Cheney ousted in a GOP primary race, will also serve on committee.
The others are all McCarthy’s allies: GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, RN.Y., Conference Vice Chair Mike Johnson, R-La., Rep. Kelly Armstrong, RN.D., Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., and Representative Kat Cammack, R-Fla.
The corona committee
Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, will chair the special committee investigating the spread of the coronavirus. Wenstrup, a physician and Iraq War veteran, is credited with applying a tourniquet and saving the life of Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., during the 2017 congressional shooting.
The others who will serve on the covid panel are Representatives Nicole Malliotakis, RN.Y., Mariannette Miller Meeks, R-Iowa, Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., John Joyce, R-Pa., and Rich McCormick, R – Go.
Rep. Michael Cloud, R-Texas, a conservative holdout who flipped to support McCarthy on the 12th of 15 ballots in the speaker’s race, will also serve on the committee.
Last week, McCarthy appointed GOP members to a third select committee focused on competition between the US and the Chinese Communist Party. It is led by Chairman Mike Gallagher, R-Wis.