Three House Democrats swiftly pushed back at Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's threat to strip them of their committee assignments if he is elected speaker.
After Republicans narrowly won control of the House in the midterm elections, McCarthy this weekend doubled down on his pledge to remove several prominent House Democrats from their committee assignments if he becomes speaker. McCarthy said he would not allow Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota to serve on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both of California, on the House Intelligence Committee.
In a tweet posted Saturday alongside a video clip, McCarthy said that he would keep his promise to remove Omar “based on her repeated antisemitic and anti-American remarks.” He made similar comments during an appearance on Fox News on Sunday.
Omar issued a blistering statement Monday in response to McCarthy’s remarks, taking aim at Republicans for making it “their mission to use fear, xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism to target me on the House Floor and through millions of dollars of campaign ads.”
Omar pointed to McCarthy’s support of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. During an interview with CNN this month, McCarthy said he would reinstate the far-right lawmaker’s committee assignments if he becomes speaker. Greene was stripped of her assignments last year in light of incendiary remarks musing about the execution of Democratic lawmakers.
“McCarthy’s effort to repeatedly single me out for scorn and hatred— including threatening to strip me from my committee — does nothing to address the issues our constituents deal with. It does nothing to address inflation, health care, or solve the climate crisis,” Omar said.
“What it does is gin up fear and hate against Somali-Americans and anyone who shares my identity, and further divide us along racial and ethnic lines,” she continued. “It is a continuation of a sustained campaign against Muslim and African voices, people his party have been trying to ban since Donald Trump first ran for office.”
Schiff similarly took aim at McCarthy in an interview Sunday with ABC News, calling him a “very weak leader” of the GOP conference who will adhere to Greene’s wishes.
“He will adhere to the wishes of the lowest common denominator,” Schiff said. “And if that lowest common denominator wants to remove people from committees, that’s what they’ll do.”
“It’s going to be chaos with Republican leadership,” Schiff added.
Asked by NBC News about his response to McCarthy’s vow, Swalwell said, “Talk to me if Kevin McCarthy becomes speaker.”
McCarthy initially made his pledge to boot Schiff, Swalwell and Omar from their committee assignments if the GOP retakes the House in an interview with Breitbart News in January. All three Democratic lawmakers are vocal critics of former President Donald Trump and have repeatedly been targeted by conservatives.
Schiff, a former prosecutor, served as the lead House manager during Trump’s first impeachment trial and is a member of the Jan. 6 committee. Swalwell, also a former prosecutor, was an impeachment manager during Trump's second impeachment trial.
Removing Democrats from their committee assignments would require a vote of a majority of the House.