Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) have all been targeted by Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in recent weeks as the House has been working to finalize committee assignments for the 118th Congress.
Last week, Schiff and Swalwell were stripped of their positions on the House Intelligence Committee, after McCarthy officially denied the Democrats from taking their previously held seats. And House Republicans plan to hold a vote this week on Omar’s seat on the House Foreign Affairs panel as McCarthy aims to oust her out as well.
But the Democrats argue the Speaker’s actions targeting them is nothing more than another political calculation to cling to his power as speaker by keeping the conservative hardliners — who recently held the speakership hostage in a very public and very embarrassing days-long vote — happy.
This is a result of McCarthy “catering to the most extreme members of their conference,” Schiff told CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday.
“I don’t accept the premise that this has anything to do with the conduct of any of the Democratic members. This is merely the weakness of Kevin McCarthy’s speakership, that he’s so reliant on these extreme members,” Schiff said.
Last year, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) were removed from their committee assignments following incendiary social media posts — including Greene posting about the assassination of then Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and pushing dangerous, baseless conspiracy theories like claiming that 9/11 was a hoax. Under McCarthy’s leadership, both Greene and Gosar have gotten their committee assignment back but Schiff argued pushing some Democrats out of their seats as retaliation will continue to keep the MAGA House Republicans on McCarthy’s side.
“He needs Marjorie Taylor Greene’s vote. He needs Paul Gosar’s vote. He wants to retaliate for their removal from the committee,” Schiff said. “And apparently he believes I was very effective in exposing his misconduct, Donald Trump’s misconduct, and that’s what they’re trying to stop.”
Swalwell agreed that McCarthy’s actions are a distinctly partisan move.
“It’s Kevin McCarthy weaponizing his ability to commit this political abuse, because he perceives me, just like Mr. Schiff and Ms. Omar, as an effective political opponent,” he said.
Schiff emphasized none of the allegations McCarthy has made against him and his colleagues are legitimate basis for unseating Democrats from committees. He pointed to Trump recently having dinner with white nationalist Nick Fuentes, Greene and others speaking at white nationalist rallies and events and the conman of the year Rep. George Santos (R-NY), who is currently under multiple investigations for questions around his campaign finances and background and resume, being assigned to multiple committees.
“The hypocrisy just grabs you by the throat,” Schiff said. “So I don’t want to dignify the pretext that they are giving for any of us. What they’re doing is really catering to the most extreme members of their conference.”