House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday officially denied Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell seats on the House Intelligence Committee.
“I appreciate the loyalty you have to your Democrat colleagues, and I acknowledge your efforts to have two Members of Congress reinstated 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 night.
“But 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 has cited a “new standard” from Democrats for why he would strip Schiff and Swalwell, both of California, of their committee assignments, after the Democrat-led House in 2021 removed GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona from their committees for inflammatory rhetoric and posts.
In the letter, McCarthy added that “it is my assessment that the misuse of this panel during the 116th and 117th Congresses severely undermined its primary national security and oversight missions – ultimately leaving our nation less safe,” and that he wants the panel to be one of “genuine honesty and credibility that regains the trust of the American people.”
After the speaker recommitted earlier Tuesday to kicking him off the Intelligence Committee, Swalwell called it “political vengeance.”
“It’s political vengeance, it’s too bad because that committee has always been a bipartisan committee, and he’s taking one of the most precious pieces of glassware in the congressional cabinet and smashing it, and the damage is going to be irreparable,” Swalwell said, adding that “if a Democrat advocated for violence against another member of Congress, I would support getting rid of them.”
Schiff told reporters that “if McCarthy thinks this is going to stop me from vigorously pushing back against his efforts to tear down these institutions, he’s going to find out just how wrong he is.”
“I think this is a terrible move on his part and once again, showing McCarthy just catering to the most extreme elements of this conference,” he added.
Schiff will sit on the Judiciary Committee, according to a Democratic aide, while Swalwell told CNN he will sit on the Judiciary and Homeland Security panels.
Two House Republicans publicly denounced McCarthy’s move ejecting Democrats from the intelligence panel. Swing district Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska called the kicking of members from committees “corrosive,” while Rep. Victoria Spartaz of Indiana said in a statement that she opposes the push to remove the Democrats.
“I appreciate these Republican members speaking out against what McCarthy is doing,” Schiff later told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on “AC360.”
“I think it does show that there are Republicans who understand this is very ill considered. It’s just going to damage the institution, it’s not justified,” he added. “These efforts are not at all bipartisan. Indeed, the opposition to it is bipartisan.”
McCarthy on Tuesday also announced the list of GOP members he is appointing to serve on the select subcommittee on the weaponization of the federal government, with Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan to serve as his chair.
GOP Reps. Dan Bishop of North Carolina and Chip Roy of Texas, who were part of the initial holdouts against McCarthy in the speakership race, also gained spots on the panel. Democrats will have the opportunity to supplement members as well.
The speaker also announced appointments to the select subcommittee on the Coronavirus pandemic, with Greene among the members chosen.
McCarthy expanded both of the select committees, naming more people to the rosters than initially expected due to “overwhelming interest” from members, according to a GOP source familiar. House Republicans will have to put forward a floor resolution to formally amend the ratios, the source added, but doesn’t anticipate it will be an issue.
This story has been updated with additional developments.