Democratic Representatives Ilhan Omar (Minnesota), Adam Schiff (California) and Eric Swalwell (California) have put House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) on blast in a new op-ed, condemning McCarthy for his “partisan political stunt” this week to block the Democrats from their committee spots.
This week, McCarthy blocked the appointment of Schiff and Swalwell from their spots on the House Intelligence Committee. He is also currently attempting to remove Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. These moves are coming despite objections from some Republicans in the House; McCarthy appears to be acting to appease some of the most extremist members of his caucus, who had held his speakership position hostage earlier this month.
In an op-ed for MSNBC published Thursday, Omar, Schiff and Swalwell said that they reject the reasons that McCarthy has given for blocking them from committees as “flimsy pretexts.” They also said they refuse to accept the “fallacious argument” that removing them is equivalent to Democrats’ removal of Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) and Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) from committee assignments for inciting violence against their colleagues in the last Congress.
They have done nothing that comes close to the magnitude of what those Republicans have done, the Democrats went on — rather, they have ruffled Republicans’ feathers and now find themselves the targets of McCarthy’s vengeance.
“Republicans say they believe in freedom of speech and debate, in exchange of ideas, and they say they are against cancel culture,” the Democrats wrote. “But if you don’t agree with their policies, they will try to forcibly remove you from a committee you serve on because they’re afraid to debate.”
They pointed to the fact that habitual liar Rep. George Santos (R-New York) has landed two committee spots as further evidence that McCarthy’s decisions are lacking in integrity or true internal reasoning.
“If ever there were a human embodiment of the Trump GOP’s disdain for truth, it was the election of this human fabrication to Congress,” they wrote. “Even after Santos’ own New York Republican colleagues have called on him to resign, McCarthy has called on him to serve on two important legislative bodies. The hypocrisy could not be more stunning.”
It’s likely that Swalwell is being blocked due to unfounded far right conspiracy theories about his involvement with a Chinese spy, while Schiff has become a target of Republican ire likely due to his role as a lead impeachment manager in Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial.
The decision to attempt to block Omar appears to be based in nothing but naked bias: Omar says that the only reason that McCarthy has targeted her is because she’s Muslim. McCarthy has falsely accused Omar of antisemitism in removing her from Foreign Affairs, a claim that doesn’t hold up to even the most basic scrutiny.
Rather, Republicans are currently ignoring growing antisemitism and ties to Neo-Nazis among their leadership to paint progressives as antisemites for supporting Palestinians in their struggle against Israeli apartheid, a framing that many Jewish people reject as a cheap tool to suppress support for the liberation of Palestinians. It is telling that McCarthy hasn’t gone after any other lawmaker in the House who has spoken out against Israeli forces and is isolating Omar, who has long faced Islamophobia from her fellow colleagues.
Omar, Schiff and Swalwell warned that blocking them from committees is just the beginning of McCarthy’s quest to satiate the most dangerous parts of his caucus, even if it means bucking democratic procedures.
“McCarthy could not become speaker without the support of Greene, Gosar and Santos. They needed to be seated on committees, and we needed to be unseated to curry favor with the most extreme elements of his conference,” they said. “All three of us stood up to the corrupt former president and his fanatical followers, and now they want vengeance. McCarthy appears ready to deliver it.”