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 subcommittees charged with investigating the politicization of the government and the origins of the Covid pandemic.
McCarthy, R-Calif., made good on his promise to block former Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell — both D-Calif. — from serving on that panel.
In a letter to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., McCarthy said that while he appreciated Jeffries’ “loyalty” to his colleagues, he could not put “partisan loyalty ahead of national security.”
McCarthy told reporters earlier Tuesday, “Hakeem Jeffries has 200 other people who can serve on that committee.” He noted that as speaker he has the authority to reject nominees for special panels like the Intelligence Committee.
In addition to keeping Schiff and Swalwell off the Intelligence Committee, McCarthy has said he intends to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., from the Foreign Affairs Committee.
In a joint statement Tuesday, the three Democrats said, “It’s disappointing but not surprising that Kevin McCarthy has capitulated to the right wing of his caucus, undermining the integrity of the Congress, and harming our national security in the process.”
The group accused McCarthy of striking “a corrupt bargain in his desperate, and nearly failed, attempt to win the Speakership, a bargain that required political vengeance against the three of us,” while vowing to continue to speak out about extremism while making efforts to “doggedly defend our democracy.”
McCarthy on Tuesday also named the GOP members of two select subcommittees Republicans formed after they took control of the House.
The Weaponization of the Federal Government panel, which will investigate Republican allegations that the Justice Department, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are being weaponized to investigate conservatives like former President Donald Trump, will include Reps. Chip Roy of Texas and Dan Bishop of North Carolina — two of the 21 conservative holdouts who initially blocked McCarthy during the five-day battle over the speaker’s gavel this month.
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., who backed McCarthy but has caused headaches for GOP leadership in the past, also got a slot on the panel.
Meanwhile, McCarthy named Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who had been suspended from social media platforms for promoting Covid misinformation, to the select panel on the coronavirus pandemic. Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas, a Republican who was Trump’s White House physician, also got the nod for the Covid panel.
Jeffries will now have an opportunity to appoint Democratic members to the special panels.
The weaponization panel
Republicans have said the new weaponization panel will examine GOP accusations that the Justice Department, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are being weaponized to investigate conservatives, including Trump. One matter the panel will look into is the FBI search last year of Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s home and resort in Florida, as agents sought 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 Democrats’ one-party rule in Washington we saw a dangerous pattern of the government being used to target political opponents while they neglected their most basic responsibilities.”
Because the panel is a special subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, panel Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who frequently clashes with Democrats, will lead the weaponization investigations.
Other notable picks include Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., a former Oversight Committee chairman who launched aggressive investigations into the Obama administration more than a decade ago.
Freshman Rep. Harriet Hageman, R-Wyo., who ousted Rep. Liz Cheney in a GOP primary last year, also will serve on the subcommittee.
The others are all McCarthy allies: GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., Conference Vice Chair Mike Johnson, R-La., Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., Greg Steube, R-Fla., and Kat Cammack, R-Fla.
The coronavirus panel
Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, will chair the select subcommittee 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 baseball shooting.
The others who will serve on the Covid panel are Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., Mariannette Miller Meeks, R-Iowa, Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., John Joyce, R-Pa., and Rich McCormick, R-Ga.
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 named GOP members to a select committee focused on competition between the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party. It is led by Chairman Mike Gallagher, R-Wis.