Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday formally removed Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from the House Intelligence Committee.
Why it matters: It’s a controversial move opposed even by some of McCarthy’s caucus members and a stark escalation of an ongoing tit-for-tat with Democrats over committee assignments.
Driving the news: McCarthy announced the move in response to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ (D-N.Y.) letter over the weekend pressing for Schiff, who was the top Democrat on the panel, and Swalwell to be kept in their seats.
- “I appreciate the loyalty you have to your Democrat colleagues. … But I cannot put partisan loyalty ahead of national security,” McCarthy wrote.
- “As such … I am hereby rejecting the appointments of Representative Adam Schiff and Representative Eric Swalwell to serve on the Intelligence Committee.”
The backdrop: McCarthy told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday that he would forge ahead with removing the two lawmakers over Swalwell’s association with a Chinese spy and Schiff’s promotion of the Steele dossier.
What’s next: McCarthy is expected to hold a floor vote on kicking Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) off the Foreign Affairs Committee, though that could face opposition from his own party.
- Reps. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) and Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) have both said they oppose kicking Democrats off their committees.
The other side: Schiff, Swalwell and Omar said in a statement that McCarthy “capitulated to the right wing of his caucus” and “struck a corrupt bargain in his desperate, and nearly failed, attempt to win” the Speakership.
- “Despite these efforts, McCarthy won’t be successful. We will continue to speak out against extremism and doggedly defend our democracy.”
What’s next: House Democrats’ steering committee voted on Tuesday to recommend Schiff for the Judiciary Committee, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the matter.
- “He is entitled to return to a prior committee assignment. He previously served on Judiciary. [Steering] voted by unanimous consent to seat him tonight on Judiciary,” the aide told Axios.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with the statement from Reps. Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell and Ilhan Omar, and with details of the House Democrats’ steering committee vote.