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House Committees Continue to Shake Out

Usually, the staffing of the various House committees is a subject of limited interest because it's very much inside baseball. However, with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and his band of irregulars running the show, it's become very interesting, indeed.

To start, as is well known at this point, McCarthy agreed to seat three hardliners on the House Rules Committee. Together with the Democrats, those three could theoretically scuttle any bill before it reaches the House floor. Yesterday, we learned who the trio will be. It's Reps. Chip Roy (R-TX) and Ralph Norman (R-SC), who were both among the MAGA 20, and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), who was not, but who is definitely a hard core right-winger (and, like his fellow Kentuckian Sen. Rand Paul, more of a Libertarian than a Republican). That should make the debt-ceiling fight extra fun (more below).

McCarthy also announced his picks for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The most prominent new member is Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX). Meanwhile, he chose none of the MAGA 20 and, in fact, none of the members of the Freedom Caucus for the committee. He must figure that their names and "intelligence" don't belong in the same sentence.

And speaking of the Intelligence Committee, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) sent a letter to McCarthy yesterday advising that he (Jeffries) was renominating Reps. Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff (both D-CA) for reappointment to that Committee. Knowing full well that McCarthy plans to boot the duo as revenge for the sanctions taken against Reps. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) in the last Congress, Jeffries wrote:

In the 117th Congress, two Members were removed from their committee assignments after a bipartisan vote of the House found them unfit to serve on standing committees for directly inciting violence against their colleagues. This action was taken by both Democrats and Republicans given the seriousness of the conduct involved, particularly in the aftermath of a violent insurrection and attack on the Capitol. It does not serve as precedent or justification for the removal of Representatives Schiff and Swalwell, given that they have never exhibited violent thoughts or behavior.

Emphasis is Jeffries', not ours.

In the end, Jeffries' letter will matter not one whit. The MAGA world in general, and Donald Trump in particular, want Swalwell's and Schiff's heads on a platter and McCarthy wants to give that to them. And he's going to get his way. With a normal standing committee, a majority of the whole House has to vote to exclude members (as in the cases of Gosar and Greene). But Intelligence is a select committee, and by the rules of the House, the Speaker can veto anyone he or she wants to veto. So, Swalwell and Schiff are out of luck, and we'll wait to see if House Democrats play tit-for-tat the next time they are in the majority. (Z)

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