This week, in a partisan political stunt, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy unilaterally stripped two of us — Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell — from our positions on the House Intelligence Committee, where the latter serves as ranking member. And the speaker is attempting to remove another one of us, Ilhan Omar, from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, despite opposition from within his own party.
Combined, Reps. Swalwell and Schiff have served on the Intelligence Committee for more than two decades. Both have a wealth of experience overseeing our intelligence agencies and both have investigated misconduct at the highest levels of our government. One of those investigations led to the impeachment of former President Donald Trump.
We will not dignify or amplify the flimsy pretexts McCarthy has given for removing us from our committees by repeating them here.
A survivor of civil conflict herself, Omar is the first African-born member to serve in the House, has sat on the full committee for four years, and enjoys the full support of our caucus to continue that important responsibility.
We will not dignify or amplify the flimsy pretexts McCarthy has given for removing us from our committees by repeating them here. Nor do we accept the fallacious argument that Republicans are merely echoing Democrats’ past removals of representatives from committees. Two GOP members, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar, were removed from their committees last session on a bipartisan basis for encouraging violence against their colleagues, even after a deadly insurrection. There is no suggestion of any such basis for the purely partisan removal of the three of us from our committees. Doing the right thing is never a precedent for doing wrong.
Republicans say they believe in freedom of speech and debate, in exchange of ideas, and they say they are against cancel culture. But if you don’t agree with their policies, they will try to forcibly remove you from a committee you serve on because they’re afraid to debate.
McCarthy’s fallacious reasoning is also belied by his eager appointment of Rep. George Santos to the Science and Small Business committees. If ever there were a human embodiment of the Trump GOP’s disdain for truth, it was the election of this human fabrication to Congress. Even after Santos’ own New York Republican colleagues have called on him to resign, McCarthy has called on him to serve on two important legislative bodies. The hypocrisy could not be more stunning.
All three of us stood up to the corrupt former president and his fanatical followers, and now they want vengeance.
Since McCarthy’s reasons for targeting us are so clearly fictional, it is worth considering what is truly motivating the shattering of yet another democratic norm. The answer is simple and pernicious: the terrible math behind his speakership. McCarthy could not become speaker without the support of Greene, Gosar and Santos. They needed to be seated on committees, and we needed to be unseated to curry favor with the most extreme elements of his conference. All three of us stood up to the corrupt former president and his fanatical followers, and now they want vengeance. McCarthy appears ready to deliver it.
If McCarthy follows through with our removal from these committees, it will not be the end of his concessions to Trump and his acolytes in Congress, but only the beginning. Already McCarthy conceded to the formation of the Orwellian-sounding “Select Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government” to investigate right-wing conspiracy theories.
This new investigative body is intended to interfere with the Justice Department investigations into the former president, allowing Republican members to backchannel whatever information they obtain to Trump’s defense team. The committee will also have access to highly classified information, causing the agencies to be less willing to share sensitive information with Congress. As a result, the Intelligence Committee will be further impaired in its ability to conduct oversight and make the right policy choices to protect the country.
During the Trump presidency, Republicans in Congress helped him tear down one institution after another. Together, they put our democracy on its most tenuous footing since the Civil War. Now back in the majority in the House, they have sadly picked up where they left off, shattering new committee norms and threatening to default on the nation’s debt for the first time in our history. We will not sit back and watch the slow undoing of this country we love, and we intend to fight back hard from whatever legislative perch we occupy. If part of McCarthy’s motivation is to defang our oversight capabilities, he is sorely mistaken — he will find us even more devoted to holding him and his allies accountable.