GOP Rep. Spartz balks at McCarthy vow to bar Dem Rep. Omar from Foreign Affairs Committee

Special rules for the Intelligence Committee allow the speaker to halt Schiff and Swalwell's appointments on his own, but stopping Omar will require a full House vote.

Updated: January 24, 2023 - 8:19pm

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Indiana Republican Rep. Victoria Spartz on Tuesday indicated that she would not support House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's effort to block Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from sitting on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"Two wrongs do not make a right. Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi [D-Calif.] took unprecedented actions last Congress to remove Reps. Greene and Gosar from their committees without proper due process," Spartz wrote in a statement. "Speaker McCarthy is taking unprecedented actions this Congress to deny some committee assignments to the Minority without proper due process again."

Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Ga., and Paul Gosar, Ariz., lost their committee assignments in the last Congress over separate matters. Both Greene and Gosar received appointments to powerful committees in the current Congress. While some have accused McCarthy of taking revenge by blocking the Democratic committee choices, the House Speaker has pointed to security concerns affecting the pair on the Intelligence Committee.

"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 News earlier this month. Swalwell has faced scrutiny over his ties and alleged romantic entanglement with an alleged Chinese spy, while Schiff, the committee's former chairman, earned Republican ire as a vocal proponent of the now-debunked Trump-Russia collusion hoax.

McCarthy has pledged to unilaterally block California Democratic Reps. Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff from sitting on the House Intelligence Committee and also hopes to stop Omar. Special rules for the Intelligence Committee allow the speaker to halt Schiff and Swalwell's appointments on his own, but stopping Omar will require a full House vote.

Omar, meanwhile, has drawn scrutiny for her intense criticism of Israel and penchant for seemingly anti-Semitic comments.

There are currently 222 Republicans in Congress, with 218 forming a majority. Spartz's refusal to support Omar's ouster in a floor vote leaves McCarthy with little room for defection, though the far-left "Squad" member is still unlikely to survive a floor vote.

"As I spoke against it on the House floor two years ago, I will not support this charade again. Speaker McCarthy needs to stop 'bread and circuses' in Congress and start governing for a change," she went on. Spartz voted present during several rounds of the lengthy leadership contest that saw McCarthy claim the gavel.

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