Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have barely been showing up at the committee’s virtual sessions ever since COVID-19 outbreak forced Congress to shut down the U.S. Capitol building in early March.
Since then, Republicans have only participated in one committee meeting out of least seven meetings. According to Politico, the only time a Republican attended a session was on April 28, when now-Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe (R-TX) appeared at a roundtable shortly before his Senate nomination hearing.
Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) told Politico on Monday that the Republicans’ absences are “almost counterproductive on their part.”
“It seems rather childish but I hope that they will reconsider,” he said.
Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), another member of the committee, described his GOP colleagues’ refusal to participate as a partisan stunt brought on by the committee’s contentious impeachment process last year.
“They have their grievances, right?” he told Politico.
Two of the committee’s Republicans, Reps. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Chris Stewart (R-CT), claimed it’s about cybersecurity, not politics, and therefore the GOP would only be attending the sessions if they were held in-person.
“These things get hacked,” Wenstrup said in an interview with Politico. “Why are we putting ourselves at that risk? You border on classified information and maybe sometimes even spill into it. It’s just not the way to conduct business.”
“It’s not an organized effort at all. I would just say that we have concerns about the format,” Stewart said.