House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) vowed on Sunday to remove Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from House committees under his leadership.
“One thing I said from the very beginning, Eric Swalwell cannot get a security clearance in the public sector,” McCarthy said on Fox News. “Why would we ever give him a security clearance and the secrets to America? So, I will not allow him to be on Intel.”
“You have Adam Schiff, who lied to the American public time and again – we will not allow him to be on the Intel Committee either,” he continued. “Look at Congresswoman Omar, her antisemitic comments that have gone forward. We’re not going to allow her to be on Foreign Affairs.”
McCarthy’s vow is an effort to court the far-right, MAGA loyalists in his party. McCarthy is in campaign mode until the new year, where he will need to get 218 votes in House elections to secure his role as speaker.
But he has been facing staunch opposition from the members of the MAGA-infused Freedom Caucus, who are demanding that McCarthy agree to a number of proposed rule changes in exchange for their votes. After losing his symbolic challenge against McCarthy last week, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) even took to social media to start a campaign against him to try to make sure he does not get the votes he needs to become speaker.
McCarthy’s vow to punish top Democrats for a series of ambiguous, purported offenses is all part of an effort to win the hearts of the Freedom Caucus members, especially Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) whom he likely hopes will see the move as a form of payback. Last February House Democrats along with 11 Republicans voted to strip Greene of all her committee posts following a series of racist, anti-Semitic and violent coments, including endorsing the assassination of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and pushing dangerous, baseless conspiracy theories.
“If this is the new standard, I look forward to continuing out the standard,” McCarthy said in a floor speech before last year’s vote.
Democratic members who were on the receiving end of McCarthy’s Sunday remarks were quick to respond to the Republican leader.
Omar responded in a press release, saying his comments are the latest examples of Republicans using “fear, xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism” to target her while openly tolerating “antisemitism, anti-Muslim hate and racism in their own party.”
“Instead of doing anything to address the open hostility towards religious minorities in his party, McCarthy is now lifting up people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Emmer and so many others,” Omar wrote. “If he cared about addressing the rise in hate, he would apologize and make sure others in his party apologized.”
Schiff also pushed back on McCarthy’s threat saying the House will be in “chaos” under Republican leadership with the “crazy caucus” pulling the strings, he said, referring to the conservative Freedom Caucus.
“Well, I suspect he will do whatever Marjorie Taylor Greene wants him to do,” Schiff said in an interview with ABC News. “He’s a very weak leader of this conference, meaning that he will adhere to the wishes of the lowest common denominator, and if that lowest common denominator wants to remove people from committees, that’s what they’ll do.”
A vote in the House next year would be required to strip Swalwell, Schiff, Omar and any others of any committee assignments.