McCarthy Kicking Dems off Key Committees Isn't Just Retaliation, it's Enabling the GOP AgendaRoundup
tags: Congress, Kevin McCarthy
Josh Kluever is a PhD candidate in history at Binghamton University (SUNY). He specializes in 20th century politics with a focus on American Socialists and third-party movements at the state level.
After a tumultuous start, House Republicans elected Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as speaker of the House, approved the rules governing their chamber and passed their first wave of legislation. They also finally named members to committees — though committee assignments for both parties are not yet formalized.
And the normally mundane process of finalizing committee rosters will be anything but, because McCarthy has promised to keep former Intelligence Committee chair Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and fellow California Democrat Eric Swalwell off the committee, as well as to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the Foreign Affairs Committee. On Monday, the news broke that House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) formally recommended the reappointment of Swalwell and Schiff to the Intelligence Committee and sources told Punchbowl News that Democrats would name Omar to the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Yet McCarthy has indicated that he plans to override Democrats’ prerogative to choose their own members for each panel in revenge for the Democratic majority voting to remove Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) from their committees in 2021. Democrats argued the punishment was appropriate because Greene spread antisemitic falsehoods and Gosar shared a social media video that called for violence against President Biden and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), among other transgressions.
McCarthy is justifying his move by calling Swalwell a “national security threat” due to his alleged ties to a Chinese intelligence operative and condemning Omar for what he described as “antisemitic and anti-American remarks.”
McCarthy’s use of the label “anti-American,” however, harks back to a similar move from a century ago — one that hints at ulterior motives behind his move.
At the height of the First “Red Scare” in 1920, the New York legislature expelled the entire five-man Socialist caucus from the state Assembly. New York Republicans claimed the decision was necessary to prevent “anti-American” rhetoric and values from undermining the state’s politics.
Yet in reality, they really wanted to prevent the spread of policies anathema to the conservative status quo. The move proved wildly successful, indicating the temptation for McCarthy and other legislative leaders to mimic it.
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