House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in an interview with right-wing outlet Breitbart News doubled down on his threat to remove Democrats from their committee assignments if he becomes House speaker following the midterm elections.
McCarthy has been boosting that plan and others that might appeal to his conference’s right-most members as he seeks to win Freedom Caucus support for his speakership.
In a video interview with Breitbart News taped last month and published Monday, McCarthy swiped at Democrats for, in his words, “picking and choosing” who can be on committees — a reference to efforts to remove Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) from their committees after they made posts on social media musing about the execution of Democratic lawmakers.
“Never in the history [of Congress] have you had the majority tell the minority who can be on committee,” McCarthy said in the video interview.
“But this new standard which these Democrats have voted for — if Eric Swalwell cannot get a security clearance in the private sector, there is no reason why he should be given one to be on Intel or Homeland Security. He will not be serving there,” McCarthy said, regurgitating an attack deployed by conservatives against Rep. Swalwell (D-CA), who serves on the House Intel committee.
Right-wingers have argued that Swalwell should be stripped of his security clearance and booted from the committee over his alleged relationship with Fang Fang, an alleged Chinese intelligence spy.
McCarthy also declared that he plans to remove Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) from the House Intelligence Committee if he becomes House speaker.
The House minority leader also reiterated his defense of Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who joked last year that Omar is a terrorist. Last month, McCarthy said he would not sanction Boebert, insisting that she apologized “publicly” and “personally” to Omar.
“The people that are causing this problem are not in the Republican conference,” McCarthy said. “They’re the Democrats and the Democrat policy. The media tries to get Republicans to fight together … Lauren Boebert made a joke, referenced something, and then she apologized to the public and then she called Ilhan Omar about it.”
After the call, Omar said that Boebert refused to apologize to her.
McCarthy’s remarks to Breitbart come amid his efforts to appease the far-right caucus of the GOP, which has voiced skepticism about his possible future speakership.
Last week, McCarthy took aim at Twitter a day after the social media platform permanently suspended Greene’s personal account, which the far-right lawmaker had used to claim that the COVID-19 vaccines were causing people to die.
Although he didn’t mention Greene by name in his statement, McCarthy complained about “recent decisions to silence Americans” including “a sitting member of Congress” because, in his words, these banned individuals “share views different from the political and media elite.”
Last November, McCarthy promised to restore Greene and Gosar’s committee assignments if Republicans take back the majority. McCarthy also threatened that if the GOP were to retake the majority, the party might seek revenge by removing Democrats from committees because they voted to censure Gosar and Greene.
But despite McCarthy’s vow, Greene appeared unsatisfied. She complained that the House minority leader still hadn’t “fought” hard enough for her or for Gosar when asked about what it would take for McCarthy to earn her support during an episode of Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-FL) podcast. Greene told Gaetz about her demands for Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Liz Cheney (R-WY), both of whom voted for former President Trump’s impeachment for “incitement of insurrection,” to be kicked out of the House GOP conference for serving on the Jan. 6 select committee — a demand that the House minority leader hasn’t acted on.
However, days after she complained about McCarthy to Gaetz, Greene claimed that she had a “good call” with the House minority leader in late November and that she “likes what he has planned ahead.”