House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) has just put Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on notice regarding committee assignments, and if McCarthy ignores the warning it could well make his tenure as Speaker shorter than he ever imagined.
The Washington Post reports that Jeffries wrote McCarthy to let him know he was recommending Reps. Adam B. Schiff and Eric Swalwell be reappointed to the House Intelligence Committee, which Schiff once chaired.
In a letter dated Saturday, Jeffries argued that McCarthy has no justifiable reason not to accept his appointments of Schiff, who served as chairman of the Intelligence panel until Republicans took control of the chamber, and Swalwell.
In his letter, Jeffries writes:
“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. 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 has said he will not place Schiff and Swalwell on the Intelligence Committee, seeking to exact revenge on Democrats for removing Reps. Paul Gosar (AZ) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA) from committee assignments. But as Jeffries notes in his letter, both Gosar and Greene were removed by a vote of the full House.
Greene and Gosar were removed “after a bipartisan vote of the House found them unfit to serve on standing committees for directly inciting violence against their colleagues. 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.”
Jeffries also pointed out that McCarthy had no problem appointing “serial fraudster” George Santos (R-NY) to committees despite the fact that he is facing multiple investigations, including from the House Ethics Committee and may also be subjected to criminal prosecution for lying in order to win his congressional seat.
If McCarthy insists on refusing to seat Schiff and Swalwell, Democrats could call for a motion to vacate, a procedure which would result in a formal vote to remove McCarthy from the Speaker’s chair. Considering that McCarthy only holds a slim majority in the House, such a move could further weaken him.