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 government’s politicization and the origins of the Covid pandemic.
McCarthy, R-Calif., made good on his promise to appoint former Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell – both D-Calif. – of serving on that panel.
In a letter to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y., McCarthy said that while he valued Jeffries’ “loyalty” to his colleagues, he could not put “partisan loyalty above national security.”
McCarthy told reporters earlier Tuesday, “Hakeem Jeffries has 200 other people to serve on that committee.” He noted that as a speaker, he has the authority to reject candidates for special panels such as the Intelligence Committee.
In addition to keeping Schiff and Swalwell out of the Intelligence Committee, McCarthy has said he intends to get Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., 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, a deal that required political revenge against the three of us,” while pledging to continue to speak out about extremism as they worked to “Strongly defending our democracy.”
McCarthy on Tuesday also named GOP members of two select subcommittees that Republicans formed after taking control of the House.
The arming of the federal government panel, which will investigate Republican allegations that the Justice Department, FBI and other law enforcement agencies are being armed to investigate conservatives like former President Donald Trump, will include Representatives 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 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 panel on the coronavirus pandemic. Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas, a Republican who was Trump’s White House physician, also received the nomination for the Covid panel.
Jeffries will now have the opportunity to nominate Democratic members to the special panels.
The armor panel
Republicans have said the new weapons panel 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 Democrats, will lead the armaments investigations.
Other notable picks 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 will also serve on the subcommittee.
The others are all McCarthy’s allies: GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, RN.Y., Conference Vice Chair Mike Johnson, R-La., Kelly Armstrong, RN.D., Greg Steube, R-Fla., and Kat Cammack, R-Vla.
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 shooting.
The others who will serve on the Covid panel are 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 select committee dealing with competition between the US and the Chinese Communist Party. It is led by Chairman Mike Gallagher, R-Wis.