Democratic New York State Representative and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries put forward Representatives Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) to serve on the House Intelligence Committee on Saturday. Still, on Tuesday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy officially rejected their nominations.
McCarthy has made it clear that he wants Schiff and Swalwell to step down from the panel, citing their “lies to the American public” and McCarthy’s belief that Swalwell’s ties to a suspected Chinese spy make him a security risk.
In a meeting with Representative Hakeem Jeffries, McCarthy said that the panel’s use over the previous two Congresses had severely compromised its fundamental national security and oversight missions—ultimately leaving the United States less safe. The committee, he said, must be restored to one of true honesty and credibility that regains the faith of the American people.
McCarthy has the authority to appoint members to “pick, joint, and conference committees appointed by the House” as speaker of the House. During the past Congress, Schiff and Swalwell sat on the House Intelligence Committee, a permanent select committee chaired by Schiff.
Jeffries argued that excluding Schiff and Swalwell from the panel’s work is antithetical to its purpose, and he asked McCarthy to approve their return over the weekend.
In conversations with the media on January 9, McCarthy said he would dismiss Schiff, Swalwell, and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from their committee assignments, just as he had stated in June of last year if the GOP won the House.
The maximum number of members from a single political party can serve on a House panel is 13. House Speaker McCarthy has not delegated membership selection authority to the minority leader as is customary, with the explanation that Democrats have previously established this practice.
In his letter dated January 21, Jeffries responded to this line of thinking, claiming that the two Republican committee members were removed from their committee assignments due to “actively encouraging violence against their colleagues” by a bipartisan vote in the House.
It was decided in 2021 that Republican Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona would no longer serve on committees due to their controversial statements on social media.
McCarthy, the minority leader at the time, withdrew the rest of his candidates for the January 6 Committee after then-speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rejected the nominations of Representatives Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Jim Banks (R-Indiana).
Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), who has recently faced fire for misrepresenting his education and employment experience, has been given positions on two committees despite Jeffries’s concerns that there needs to be more consistency. This discrepancy, as expressed by Jeffries in a letter, “risks eroding the spirit of bipartisan cooperation that is so sorely required in Congress,” he added.