House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday officially rejected Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) for seats on the House Intelligence Committee after House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) nominated them on Saturday.
McCarthy, following through on earlier promises, informed Jeffries in a letter he shared on Twitter.
“I appreciate the loyalty you have to your Democrat colleagues, and I acknowledge your efforts to have two Members of Congress reinstated to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence,” McCarthy wrote. “But I cannot put partisan loyalty ahead of national security, and I cannot simply recognize years of service as the sole criteria for membership on this essential committee. Integrity matters more.”
“As such, in order to maintain a standard worthy of this committee’s responsibilities, I am hereby rejecting the appointments of Representative Adam Schiff and Representative Eric Swalwell to serve on the Intelligence Committee,” he continued.
McCarthy contended that the panel had been misused during the previous two Congresses, which he said had “severely undermined its primary national security and oversight missions—ultimately leaving our nation less safe.”
He added that he was committed to returning the panel to “one of genuine honesty and credibility that regains the trust of the American people.”
As speaker, McCarthy has the power to appoint “all select, joint, and conference committees ordered by the House,” according to the rules (pdf) of the House of Representatives. The House Intelligence Committee is a permanent select committee.
Schiff and Swalwell served on that committee during the last Congress, with Schiff as chairman. Over the weekend, Jeffries urged McCarthy to accept their return to the intelligence panel.
“I write today to submit for renomination two eminently qualified legislators to continue their service on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence: Ranking Member Adam Schiff and Representative Eric Swalwell of California,” Jeffries wrote in a letter (pdf) on Jan. 21.
“It is my understanding that you intend to break with the longstanding House tradition of deference to the minority party Intelligence Committee recommendations and deny seats to Ranking Member Schiff and Representative Swalwell,” he continued. “The denial of seats to duly elected Members of the House Democratic Caucus runs counter to the serious and sober mission of the Intelligence Committee.”
McCarthy indicated his intention to remove the pair last year if the GOP won the House, and in interviews with media on Jan. 9, said he’d remove Schiff, Swalwell, and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from their committee assignments.
“Swalwell can’t get a security clearance in the private sector,” McCarthy told AP and Punchbowl, likely referring to reports that Swalwell was targeted by a suspected Chinese spy. “I’m not going to give him a government security clearance. Schiff has lied to the American public. He should not be on Intel.”