WASHINGTON – GOP Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday that he would not sit other California Reps. Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff to the House Intelligence Committeeand kept a promise he made to conservatives on the campaign trail.
“I will put national security ahead of party politics,” he said during a news conference.
McCarthy has said Swalwell likely would be denied a private sector security clearance and accused Schiff of lying to the public and claiming they were unfit to serve on the committee that handles classified information.
Democrats say it’s political revenge. Both California Democrats served on the panel in the last Congress, and Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., has asked that they be reappointed. Unlike most standing committees, the Speaker chooses who serves on the Select Intelligence Committee.
McCarthy said it is not political and that Schiff and Swalwell could sit on other committees, but not the intelligence service.
Why isn’t McCarthy sitting with Schiff and Swalwell?
Before he was elected speaker, McCarthy said he would not put Schiff on the intelligence committee, claiming he lied to Americans as chairman of the panel that led first impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump in 2019.
McCarthy said he would not seat Swalwell because of congressman’s past ties to a suspected Chinese spy.
In 2021, McCarthy first called for Swalwell’s removal from the committee but the Democrat-led House rejected the move largely along party lines.
Why Democrats say the McCarthy movement with Schiff and Swalwell is revenge
In a letter Saturday, Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said McCarthy anyone denying seats “runs counter to the serious and sober mission of the Intelligence Committee.
He also contrasted the removal of Schiff and Swalwell with the removal of GOP Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia in the last Congress.
The Democratic-led House, with the help of some Republicans, voted to remove Gosar and Greene from committees last session.
Reinstated Republicans: Greene, Gosar reinstated to GOP-led House committees after Democrats removed them
The comparison with Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar
Gosar was censured and removed from committee in November 2021 after posting an animated video depicting violence against Biden and the killing of the progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He was stripped of his seats on the Natural Resources and Oversight and Reform committees.
Greene was removed in February 2021 for a series of inflammatory posts on social media. She had adopted QAnon conspiracy theories and made previous comments that the attacks of September 11, 2001 did not take place. She was kicked out of the seats in the budget committee and the education and work panel.
Both Greene and Gosar have been restored to committee in the new Republican-led House.
Jeffries argued in his letter to McCarthy that “a bipartisan vote in the House found them unfit to serve on standing committees for directly inciting violence against their colleagues.”
Schiff and Swalwell, on the other hand, “never exhibited violent thoughts or behavior.”
What McCarthy said to Jeffries in a letter
McCarthy replied formally to Jeffries in a letter Tuesday nighttelling him “integrity matters more” than seniority on the committee and that he rejects Schiff and Swalwell.
“It is my assessment that the abuse of this panel during the 116th and 117th Congresses seriously undermined its primary national security and oversight mission — ultimately making our nation less secure.” McCarthy said in the letter.
He said he is committed to returning the committee “to one of genuine honesty and credibility that regains the confidence of the American people.”
In a response issued late Tuesday, Schiff said McCarthy kicked off the committee because “I fought against him and Donald Trump when they tried to tear down our democracy. If he thinks that will stop me, he will soon find out of it differently.”
‘Industrial scale ticket scalping’: Senators grill Ticketmaster over Taylor Swift concert fiasco
Candy Woodall is a congressional reporter for USA TODAY. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @candynotcandace.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: McCarthy: Swalwell, Schiff Will Not Serve on House Intelligence Panel