Republican Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana announced on Tuesday that she opposes House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s push to remove three Democrats – Reps. Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell and Ilhan Omar – from committees.
The new House GOP majority is gearing up for a showdown with Democrats over the issue, but pushback from within the House GOP has the potential to complicate an effort to oust Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, in particular. Spartz is the second Republican to suggest she’d vote against such a move. Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina signaled to CNN earlier this month she’d be unlikely to back a measure to oust Omar if it came to the floor.
McCarthy has cited a “new standard” from Democrats for why he would strip them of their committee assignments after the Democrat-led House in 2021 removed GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona from their committees for inflammatory rhetoric and posts.
In her statement, Spartz referenced the previous move by House Democrats, saying that “two wrongs do not make a right.”
“Speaker Pelosi took unprecedented actions last Congress to remove Reps. Greene and Gosar from their committees without proper due process. Speaker McCarthy is taking unprecedented actions this Congress to deny some committee assignments to the Minority without proper due process again,” Spartz continued.
“As I spoke against it on the House floor two years ago, I will not support this charade again,” the congresswoman said.
Democratic leaders have officially renominated Schiff and Swalwell to the House Intelligence Committee. And Omar has officially requested to have a seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee.
McCarthy has the power to unilaterally block Schiff and Swalwell from serving on the House Intelligence Committee because it is a select committee. In a letter to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries Tuesday night, McCarthy officially denied the California Democrats seats on the panel.
Ousting Omar, however, from the House Foreign Affairs Committee would require a vote of the full House of Representatives. Democrats would oppose and it would only take a handful of GOP members to block McCarthy from moving forward given that Republicans control only a razor-thin majority in the House.
Omar told reporters that Pelosi had been “very clear” on why Greene and Gosar had been removed.
“It was because they threatened the lives of their colleagues,” she told reporters. “They posed danger to folks that they would serve on committees with, to the actual institution they were sworn to protect. Unless McCarthy can say how myself, Adam Schiff, and Eric Swalwell are a danger to the institution and our colleagues, then he’s not following the example that was set by Speaker Pelosi.”
Spartz voted “present” during several rounds of votes as McCarthy was trying to lock up the support to win the speakership at the start of the new Congress. Ultimately, however, the congresswoman voted for McCarthy in the final round in which he secured the gavel.
This story has been updated with additional details.