Dems recommend Swalwell, Schiff for Intelligence Committee despite McCarthy vow to block them

"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."

Updated: January 23, 2023 - 4:03pm

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House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has recommended that Democratic California Reps. Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff return to the House Intelligence Committee despite a pledge from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to keep them off the panel.

Jeffries wrote to McCarthy on Saturday with his picks for the panel, contending that both committee veterans are well-suited to hold the seats.

"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," he wrote of the pair, in the letter, which Punchbowl News first reported. "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 previously told the outlet that he would refuse to seat either lawmaker, in part due to existing security concerns.

"Swalwell can't get a security clearance in the private sector. I'm not going to give him a government security clearance. Schiff has lied too many times to the American public. He should not be on Intel," he told Punchbowl earlier in January.

Swalwell came under fire while in the House majority over his close ties to an alleged Chinese spy and a rumored romantic liaison between the pair. Schiff, meanwhile, was a prominent proponent of the Trump-Russia collusion hoax and earned Republican ire as an impeachment manager during the first impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump. He previously chaired the Intelligence Committee.

House rules allow the Speaker to unilaterally block individual members from sitting on the Intelligence Committee, and McCarthy is expected to exercise that right.

Jeffries has also reportedly tapped Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar to serve on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, an appointment McCarthy has also vowed to oppose, though in that instance, Republicans will have to put the matter to a floor vote. 

Omar, a far-left member of the "Squad," is unlikely to survive such a vote.