Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) formally rejected two high-profile Democrats from continuing to serve on the House Intelligence Committee.
McCarthy posted on Tuesday a response letter addressed to Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who over the weekend recommended Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) for the panel that has access to the nation’s most sensitive secrets.
“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,” McCarthy said.
“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,” McCarthy added.
The letter was released shortly after McCarthy and Jeffries reportedly held a meeting.
As speaker, McCarthy has the unilateral authority to block members from the House Intelligence Committee. Even before he took on the role, McCarthy vowed to bump Schiff and Swalwell from the perches they’ve held for years. McCarthy has also talked about removing Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from the Foreign Affairs Committee, but that would take a House floor vote to accomplish.
Not everyone in the Republican conference is on board with the push to yank Democrats from their committee assignments. Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN), who over the course of 15 ballots for speaker this month voted “present” some of the time, released a statement saying she did not support what she called a “charade.”
McCarthy has accused Schiff, who served as chairman of the committee for four years, of being a repeat liar, particularly with investigations related to former President Donald Trump. The speaker has raised national security concerns with Swalwell because of his intimate ties to an alleged Chinese spy years ago.