House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday officially denied Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swawell are members of the House Intelligence Committee.
“I appreciate the loyalty you have to your fellow Democrats and recognize your efforts to return two members of Congress to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries that he posted on Twitter Tuesday evening.
“But I cannot put party loyalty before national security, and I cannot simply recognize years of service as the sole criteria for membership on this important committee.” Honesty is more important.”
McCarthy cited a “new standard” from Democrats for why he would strip Schiff and Swawell, both of California, from their committees after the Democratic-led House of Representatives in 2021 removed GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona from their Inciting Rhetoric and Posts Committees.
In the letter, McCarthy added that “it is my judgment that the abuse of this panel during the 116th and 117th Congresses has seriously undermined the core national security and oversight missions — ultimately leaving our nation less safe.” and that he wants the panel to be one of “true honesty and trust that restores the confidence of the American people.”
After the speaker earlier Tuesday again vowed to kick him off the intelligence committee, Swwell called it “political vendetta.”
“This is political vendetta, very bad, because this committee has always been a bipartisan committee, and he’s taking one of the most valuable pieces of glass in the cabinet of Congress and breaking it, and the damage will be irreparable,” Suwell said, adding that “if a Democrat advocated violence against another member of Congress, I would support their removal.”
Schiff told reporters that “if McCarthy thinks this is going to stop me from vigorously opposing his efforts to destroy these institutions, he’s going to find out how wrong he is.”
“I think it’s a terrible move on his part and it shows once again that McCarthy just caters to the most extreme elements of this conference,” he added.
Schiff will sit on the Judiciary Committee, according to a Democratic aide, while Swawell told CNN he will sit on the Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees.
Two House Republicans publicly condemned McCarthy’s move, which kicked Democrats off the intelligence panel. Swing County Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska called kicking committee members “corrosive,” while Congresswoman Victoria Spartz of Indiana said in a statement that she opposed the push to remove Democrats.
“I appreciate those Republican members who are speaking out against what McCarthy is doing,” Schiff later told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on “AC360.”
“I think it shows that there are Republicans who understand that this is very reckless. This will only harm the institution, it is not justified,” he added. “These efforts are not bipartisan at all. In fact, the opposition to him is bipartisan.
On Tuesday, McCarthy also announced the list of Republicans he is appointing to serve on the select subcommittee on federal government armaments, with Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan serving as its chairman.
Republicans Dan Bishop of North Carolina and Chip Roy of Texas, who were among McCarthy’s original opponents in the speaker race, also won seats on the panel. Democrats will also be able to appoint members.
The speaker also announced appointments to the subcommittee on the coronavirus pandemic, with Greene among the elected members.
McCarthy expanded both select committees, appointing more people to the lists than originally expected because of “overwhelming interest” from members, according to a GOP source familiar with the matter. House Republicans would have to introduce a resolution to formally change the ratios, the source added, but he didn’t expect that to be a problem.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
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