Reps. Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, and Ilhan Omar, who were stripped of their committee assignments by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, have accused him of “political vengeance” in a statement Tuesday evening after he again blocked their appointments.
“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,” said Schiff, D-Calif., Swalwell, D-Calif., and Omar, D-Minn., in a joint statement.
The statement is the latest exchange in an ongoing tiff between McCarthy, R-Calif., and the three Democrats after he removed them from choice committee assignments after Republicans took over the majority, and he was elected Speaker.
“He struck 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,” the Democrats continued in the letter.
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 07, 2023, in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Immediately following his decision, Schiff, Swalwell and Omar asked McCarthy to reconsider.
But, he did not.
“Despite these efforts, McCarthy won’t be successful. We will continue to speak out against extremism and doggedly defend our democracy,” the Democratic trio said.
After the three Democrats were unsuccessful in convincing McCarthy to reinstate their committee positions, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., the highest-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, vouched for them.
In a letter, Jeffries said the legislators were “eminently qualified” and had experience justifying a position overseeing the nation’s intelligence community. Schiff and Swalwell previously served on the House Intelligence Committee while Omar served on the Foreign Affairs Committee.
That also failed to convince McCarthy, who said in an open letter that “national security” and “integrity” matter more than “partisan loyalty.”
“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 to Jeffries. “But I cannot put partisan loyalty ahead of national security, and I cannot simply recognize years of service as the sole criteria for membership to this essential committee. Integrity matters more.”
The Republican added: “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.”
A split photo of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy with Reps. Adam Schiff, Eric swalwell, and Ilhan Omar. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images/Win McNamee/Getty Images)
McCarthy also said, “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.”
“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,” the California Republican said.
McCarthy alleges Swalwell’s prior relationship with a suspected Chinese spy Christine Fang, Schiff’s alleged propensity for lying to Americans and Omar’s outspoken criticism of Israel would keep them off their respective committees.
Representative Eric Swalwell, a Democrat from California, left, and Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Since becoming House Speaker, McCarthy has vowed to make the legislative process “more open and transparent.” He has also created select committees tasked with investigating the COVID-19 pandemic government response and the weaponization of the federal government.
Republicans on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic include Chairman Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, and Reps. Nicole Malliotakis of New York, Mariannette Miller Meeks of Iowa, Debbie Lesko of Arizona, Michael Cloud of Texas, John Joyce of Pennsylvania, Majories Taylor Greene of Georgia, Ronny Jackson of Texas and Rich McCormick of Georgia.
Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, with Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat from Minnesota, at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., US, on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The GOP members of the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government include Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio, and Reps. Darrell Issa of California, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Chris Stewart of Utah, Elise Stephanik of New York, Mike Johnson of Louisiana, Chip Roy of Texas, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, Greg Steube of Florida, Dan Bishop of North Carolina, Kat Cammack and Harriet Hageman of Wyoming.