McCarthy pledges to keep these three Democrats out of sensitive committee assignments

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is hoping to receive a promotion in the new session of Congress. With Republicans in the majority now, albeit a slim majority, McCarthy is asking fellow Republicans to vote him Speaker of the House in January. He does not have the votes to make that happen yet but he’s forging ahead as though he does.

McCarthy was nominated last week as the Republican to lead the House in the next Congress by his fellow Republicans but there were 31 Republicans who opposed his nomination. There is much speculation now on whether or not McCarthy has the votes to get the job.

McCarthy was interviewed by Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo on Sunday. He told her that when Republicans take control of the House in January, he will honor a long-held promise to bar three controversial Democrats – Reps.Omar, Schiff and Swalwell – from committee assignments. Why these three, you may ask?

Rep. Eric Swalwell could not get a security clearance in the public sector, McCarthy reasoned. “Why would we ever give him a security clearance and the secrets to America? So, I will not allow him to be on” the House Intelligence Committee. McCarthy was referencing Swalwell’s alleged personal relationship with a Chinese spy.

He pointed to Rep. Adam Schiff’s history of lying in his promotions of Russia, Russia, Russia collusion theories during the previous administration disqualifies him from being on the House Intelligence Committee.. And, as far as Rep. Omar goes, her consistent criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism disqualifies her from being on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“You have Adam Schiff, who lied to the American public time and again – we will not allow him to be on the [Intelligence] Committee either,” McCarthy added. “Look at Congresswoman Omar, her antisemitic comments that have gone forward. We’re not going to allow her to be on Foreign Affairs.”

I certainly understand McCarthy’s sentiment here. Those three Democrats are particularly vile in their political partisanship. However, I’m not a fan of encouraging bad behavior. In this case, it is McCarthy mimicking Nancy Pelosi in keeping objectionable (to her) members of the minority party off of committee assignments. Pelosi kept pro-Trump Republicans off of the January 6 committee, only allowing two anti-Trump useful idiots to sit on the committee, Liz Cheney (a co-chair) and Adam Kinzinger. General committee assignments are the purview of party leadership, not the Speaker who is in the opposite party. Wanting to seek some kind of revenge for bad behavior by Democrats over the course of the previous administration and the two years of the Biden administration is understandable. They deserve a comeuppance. McCarthy is going down the wrong path, though.

Newt Gingrich blames Nancy Pelosi for McCarthy’s promise. She did it, therefore McCarthy wants to do it. He said Pelosi “set the precedent” Gingrich listed the same reasons that McCarthy did as reasons to keep the three Democrats off sensitive committees.

I think Nancy Pelosi set the precedent. She did something that had never been done before and reached into the minority party to decide who could and could not serve on some committees. I think Kevin McCarthy is following her precedent. So the Democrats have nothing to complain about because they started this dance and frankly, the three people he’s picked so totally deserve to be kicked off committees.

It’s unbelievable. Adam Schiff made a career out of lying to the American people while serving as chairman of the Intelligence Committee without any question, just plain, flat-out lying. Swalwell has had a relationship with a Chinese communist. That’s unimaginable for somebody who’s going to have security clearance. And of course, Omar is a viciously anti-Israel, antisemitic orator who has consistently violated the norms of civilized behavior. So I think those are three pretty good targets. And I commend Speaker-designate McCarthy for taking them head-on.

I do think keeping Swalwell off the House Intelligence Committee is reasonable. As soon as his relationship with the Chinese spy was exposed, he should have been held accountable and removed from the committee. Schiff’s propensity to lie about his opposition and make false claims about evidence the intelligence committee may or may not have are personal character flaws, to be sure. But if lying was the reason to keep a politician off a committee, how many would still be available to serve? Omar’s anti-Semitism is despicable but we know who she is. She should be sanctioned when she is particularly offensive but Pelosi was happy to dance around the subject out of fear of the powerful progressive wing of the party. Pelosi chose to bow and scrape to Omar and her fellow anti-Israel progressives.

Omar responded to McCarthy in her usual way – she played the victim and called it racism.

“From the moment I was elected, the Republican Party has made it their mission to use fear, xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism to target me on the House floor and through millions of dollars of campaign ads,” said Omar. “McCarthy’s effort to repeatedly single me out for scorn and hatred—including threatening to strip me from my committee—does nothing to address the issues our constituents deal with. It does nothing to address inflation, health care, or solve the climate crisis.”

Omar said the “constant stream of hate” from conservatives has led “led to hundreds of death threats and credible plots against me and my family.”

As I said, it’s not clear yet if McCarthy will be the next Speaker of the House in January. If he is, it will be interesting to see how he handles all this.

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