After the previous House, which was run by Democrats, the 2023 House of Representatives and its Speaker Kevin McCarthy are taking steps to restore bipartisan participation in committees and remove any problematic Senators from their roles. Long considered apolitical, the House Intelligence Committee became the epicenter of partisan sniping during Trump’s administration with investigations into the 2016 election, Trump’s alleged links to Russia, and Ukraine. McCarthy said he wants to refocus the emphasis away from politics.
“It is my assessment that the misuses of this panel during the 116th and 117th Congresses undermined its primary national security and oversight missions — ultimately leaving our nation less safe,” McCarthy wrote in his letter Tuesday. “Therefore, as we enter a new Congress, I am committed to returning the Intelligence Committee to one of genuine honesty and credibility that regains the trust of the American people.”
McCarthy has accused Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who served as head of the House Intelligence Committee for four years, of being a habitual liar, especially in relation to investigations into former President Donald Trump. The speaker has also raised national security concerns about Eric Swalwell (D-CA) on his potential ties to a Chinese spy many years ago.
As Speaker, McCarthy has the right to exclude members of the House Intelligence Committee unilaterally. Prior to assuming his position, McCarthy pledged to remove Schiff and Swalwell from their long-held positions. McCarthy has also discussed removing Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from the Foreign Affairs Committee, although this would require a vote on the House floor.
Now, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has officially disqualified two prominent Democrats from serving on the House Intelligence Committee. McCarthy sent a response letter to Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) on Tuesday. Jeffries had proposed Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell for the panel that has access to the nation’s most sensitive secrets over the weekend, according to Daily Wire.
Jeffries, who replaced Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as the leader of the House Democrats in current session of Congress, said in a weekend letter to McCarthy that Schiff and Swalwell were “eminently qualified” to continue sitting on the committee. In previous years, bipartisan votes have resulted in the removal of Republican committee members, as he observed. Rep. George Santos (R-NY), a “serial fraudster,” was also used in an effort to buttress his point. Republicans chose to send the freshman member, who acknowledged to lying about areas of his job and personal life, to committees despite several probes and calls for his resignation. “The apparent double standard risks undermining the spirit of bipartisan cooperation that is so desperately needed in Congress,” Jeffries added.
McCarthy answered and made his choice obvious.
I have rejected the appointments of Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell for the House Intelligence Committee.
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) January 25, 2023
“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 said. “As such, in order to maintain a standard worthy of this committee’s responsibilities, I am hereby rejecting the appointments of Representative Adam Schiff and Representative Eric Swalwell to serve on the Intelligence Committee,” McCarthy added.
The letter was distributed shortly after McCarthy and Jeffries allegedly met. He informed the press that Schiff and Swalwell may serve on other committees. McCarthy urged for reporters to accept his claims and replies to their inquiries while they objected to his statements.
.@SpeakerMcCarthy to reporter: Let me be very clear & respectful to you. You ask me a question when I answer it it's the answer to your question. You don't get to determine whether I answer a question or not, okay? In all respect…what happens in the Intel Cmte you don't know. pic.twitter.com/WD57QB7m1v
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 25, 2023
Schiff and Swalwell are dissatisfied with their expulsion from the committee.
“This is petty, political payback for investigating Donald Trump. If he thinks this will stop me, he will soon find out just how wrong he is. I will always defend our democracy,” Schiff tweeted Tuesday evening.
Kevin McCarthy just kicked me and @RepSwalwell off the Intelligence Committee.
This is petty, political payback for investigating Donald Trump.
If he thinks this will stop me, he will soon find out just how wrong he is.
I will always defend our democracy.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) January 25, 2023
Swalwell has long defended himself in the Chinese espionage issue by citing FBI statements that he cooperated with any inquiry and was not suspected of misconduct. “This rejection is based on a claim that the Washington Post independent-fact checker gave 4 Pinocchios,” he tweeted Tuesday. “Speaker [John] Boehner and [Paul] Ryan, both Gang of 8 members, appointed me to Intel with access to the same facts McCarthy is distorting. He can keep me off Intel, but I’m not going away.”
This rejection is based on a claim that the Washington Post independent-fact checker gave 4 Pinocchios. Speaker Boehner and Ryan, both Gang of 8 members, appointed me to Intel with access to the same facts McCarthy is distorting. He can keep me off Intel, but I’m not going away. https://t.co/YQZOVCSJpO
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) January 25, 2023
According to Daily Wire, not everyone in the Republican conference is in favor of removing Democrats from their committee assignments. Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN), who voted “present” on several of the 15 ballots for speaker last month, published a statement in which she stated she did not support what she termed a “charade.”
McCarthy has already revealed the Republican members of the intelligence committee for the current session of Congress. Representative Mike Turner will preside (R-OH). It was initially unclear which Democrats would complete the committee membership.