Chairman McCarthy loses Republican support to strip Democrats from committees

Some House Republicans have broken with Speaker Kevin McCarthy over plans to oust Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar, Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from committees.

Mr. McCarthy, a California Republican, vowed to punish those three lawmakers in retaliation for Democrats in the last Congress removing Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona from committees.

“Two wrongs don’t make a right,” said Rep. Victoria Spartz, an Indiana Republican and member of the Freedom Caucus.

He called on Mr. McCarthy to “stop the ‘bread and circuses’ in Congress and start governing for a change”.

Rep. Nancy Mace, a South Carolina Republican, also opposed blocking Ms. Omar and the two California Democrats from sitting on their respective committees.

“I will treat everyone equally. I want to be consistent on that,” Ms Mace, who voted against stripping Ms Greene and Mr Gosar of the committees in 2021, told CNN.

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Democrats said Ms Greene and Mr Gosar deserved to be removed from committees because of inflammatory rhetoric, including on social media, which they said threatened violence against lawmakers.

The defections of Spartz and Mace, while still not enough to sink the committee’s planned removals, highlight the difficulty McCarthy and the Republican conference face in making any progress with their narrow five-seat majority.

However, the only measure that requires a House vote is the removal of Mrs. Omar of Minnesota from her seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Mr. McCarthy can unilaterally expel Mr. Schiff and Mr. Swalwell from the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence due to their select committee appointment.

Because removing Ms. Omar from her committee will require a vote of the entire House and Democrats will not support it, McCarthy cannot lose more than four Republican votes.

Republicans want to expel Ms. Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee because of her past anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli rhetoric.

In supporting Schiff’s removal, the speaker cited Schiff’s political partisanship on the panel and his defense of the Steele dossier’s now-discredited allegations about former President Donald Trump and Russia.

Swalwell had close relations with a Chinese spy, with whom he later cut ties after federal investigators tipped him off about the espionage link.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., formally nominated Mr. Swalwell and Mr. Schiff, both from California, to the intelligence committee last week. He is expected to nominate Ms. Omar to the Foreign Relations panel.

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