Another GOP Rep. Opposes Removing Democrats Schiff, Swalwell, Omar From Committees

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
January 24, 2023Politics
Another GOP Rep. Opposes Removing Democrats Schiff, Swalwell, Omar From Committees
Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., on May 3, 2022. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

Two Republican lawmakers have now voiced their opposition to a plan, favored by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), to remove Democrat Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from their committee assignments.

McCarthy is seeking to block Schiff and Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee and Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The move McCarthy is seeking would come after the previously Democrat-controlled House voted to strip Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) of their committee assignments.

On Tuesday, Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) announced she would oppose removing Schiff, Swalwell, and Omar from their committees, saying that “two wrongs do not make a right.”

“Speaker Pelosi took unprecedented actions last Congress to remove Reps. Greene and Gosar from their committees without proper due process. Speaker McCarthy is taking unprecedented actions this Congress to deny some committee assignments to the Minority without proper due process again,” Spartz said. “As I spoke against it on the House floor two years ago, I will not support this charade again. Speaker McCarthy needs to stop ‘bread and circuses’ in Congress and start governing for a change.”

Spartz’s comments come just weeks after Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) said she wouldn’t support removing the three Democrats from their committee assignments.

“I’m not going to support it,” Mace told Axios in a Dec. 15 article.

In her comments to Axios, Mace noted she and other Republicans opposed when the Democratic majority voted to remove Republicans from their assignments.

“I try to be consistent in my values … regardless of who’s in charge,” she said.

In a Tuesday tweet, CNN congressional correspondent Manu Raju indicated Mace had reiterated her opposition to stripping Democrats of their committee assignments.

Other Republicans May Oppose Committee Ousters

In the Dec. 15 Axios article, two other Republicans indicated they may not be on board with stripping Democrats of their committee assignments.

“I’ve never been a fan of that. Members are elected by their districts,” Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) told the publication. “To throw them off just seems inappropriate.”

Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) also said he didn’t think a “tit for tat” move is necessary and said that “we should be better than what the Democrats were.” Still, Barr told Axios that McCarthy’s rationale for kicking Schiff and Swalwell off of the Intelligence Committee could be merited.

The Republican Party currently holds a narrow majority in the House, with 222 members. Democrats won 213 seats in the 2022 midterm elections, but now hold 212 seats after a member of the party died in November.

With the narrow majority, the move to oust the three Democrats from their committees could fail if more than four Republicans decide to vote “no” on the measure.

McCarthy’s Arguments for Ousters

For months, McCarthy vowed to remove Schiff, Swalwell, and Omar from their committee assignments if Republicans took control of the House in the 2022 midterms.

McCarthy has insisted Schiff repeatedly lied to the American people, including by falsifying records while serving on the special House committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol.

During a Jan. 6 Committee hearing in December 2021, Schiff presented a text message from that day between Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Mark Meadows, who was the White House chief of staff for President Donald Trump. Jordan’s text message described a legal argument that then-Vice President Mike Pence could challenge the certification of the 2020 election results. Schiff’s presentation of Jordan’s text left out the context that the text was a direct quote from a legal opinion by former Department of Defense Inspector General Joseph Schmitz. The version of the text Schiff presented had left out a portion of Schmitz’s argument that Pence could object to the election certification “in accordance with guidance from founding father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence.”

The Jan. 6 Committee confirmed that Schiff had presented an altered text message, but said the committee itself was responsible for the error, and not Schiff specifically.

In another instance, during Trump’s first impeachment case in November 2019, Schiff presented a false version of the conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in which Schiff portrayed Trump as having told Zelenskyy, “I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand, lots of it.” Schiff subsequently said his portrayal of the conversation was a parody.

In November, McCarthy said Schiff had “lied to the American public time and again.”

Rep. Adam Schiff
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) attends a hearing by the select committee on the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington on June 13, 2022. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

McCarthy said his reasoning for removing Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee stems from the relationship Swalwell had with a suspected Chinese spy. The suspected female spy, Christine “Fang” Fang, had reportedly formed relationships with several rising political figures and had pursued romantic and sexual relationships with some of them. Fang reportedly raised funds for Swalwell, and Swalwell’s father and brother were friends with her on Facebook. It’s unclear if Swalwell’s relationship with Fang went beyond professional.

Commenting on Swalwell’s case, McCarthy has said he would not be able to obtain a security clearance in the private sector given his contacts with Fang and, as such, “there is no reason why he should be given one to be on Intel or Homeland Security.”

In recent interviews, McCarthy has not said why Omar should be removed from her committee assignments, but in the past he has said she made antisemitic comments that warrant expulsion.

On Monday, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.J.) submitted Schiff and Swalwell’s names as his appointees to serve on the House Intelligence Committee. Speaking in support of assigning Schiff and Swalwell, Jeffries painted a distinction between the decision to oust Republicans from their committees last Congress and McCarthy’s call to block Democrats from committees in the current Congress.

“In the 117th Congress, two Members were removed from their committee assignments after a bipartisan vote of the House found them unfit to serve on standing committees for directly inciting violence against their colleagues,” he wrote. “This action was taken by both Democrats and Republicans given the seriousness of the conduct involved, particularly in the aftermath of a violent insurrection and attack on the Capitol. It does not serve as precedent or justification for the removal of Representatives Schiff and Swalwell, given that they have never exhibited violent thoughts or behavior.”

The House voted, in 2021, to remove Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) from her committee assignments over controversial social media posts she had made prior to becoming an elected representative. Greene had reportedly liked a Facebook comment another user made in January 2019, in which they said a “bullet to the head” would be the quickest way to remove then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) from office.

The House also voted in 2022 to remove Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) from his committees after he shared a cartoon video in which his face was superimposed on a character who used a sword to attack another character that bore the face of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

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