Six takeaways from House committee assignments so far

As members of the House continue to receive committee assignments for the new Congress, Republicans are shaking up several panels with their newly obtained majority.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has doubled down on promises to block certain Democrats from top panels, while several Republicans who played key roles in his long, drawn-out fight for Speaker have found their way onto prominent committees.

More committee assignments remain to be handed out, but here are the six main takeaways so far:

Greene, Gosar back on committees

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., joined at left by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) were placed back on committees on Tuesday, after having their committee assignments stripped in 2021.

Both Greene and Gosar were selected to sit on the Oversight and Accountability Committee, while Greene was also chosen to serve on the Homeland Security Committee and Gosar was picked to sit on the Natural Resources Committee.

Greene, who had reportedly lobbied for the spot on the Oversight committee, was a key supporter of McCarthy throughout his bid for Speaker. She was stripped of her committee assignments in February 2021, just one month after joining Congress, for espousing conspiracy theories and encouraging violence against Democratic officials on social media.

Gosar was censured and removed from his committees in November 2021, after he posted an anime-style video that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and engaging in a sword fight with President Biden.

McCarthy sparks fresh anger with vow to keep Omar off Foreign Affairs

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) speaks to reporters during a break in a House Democratic caucus meeting and leadership election on Wednesday, November 30, 2022 for the 118th session of Congress.

McCarthy has recently doubled down on his previous vows to keep Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) off the Foreign Affairs Committee, sparking fresh anger among Democrats and Muslim advocacy groups.

Omar, one of three Muslim members of Congress, has been critical of the Israeli government and its supporters, leading to accusations of antisemitism.

“Last year, I promised that when I became Speaker, I would remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee based on her repeated anti-semitic and anti-American remarks,” McCarthy said in a tweet in November. “I'm keeping that promise.”

McCarthy reportedly told the GOP conference last week that he still plans to remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Robert McCaw, the government affairs department director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called the decision to reinstate Greene and Gosar while threatening to remove Omar “absolute insanity and hypocrisy” in a statement on Wednesday. 

“Racism and Islamophobia would be the only explanation for this hypocritical double-standard,” McCaw said.

While McCarthy has promised to block Omar’s appointment, he cannot do so alone. In order to remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee, House Republicans would have to bring the matter to a vote on the House floor.

Schiff, Swalwell future on Intel panel still in peril

In this May 28, 2019 file photo, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., left, and Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., speak with members of the media on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Reps. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell’s (D-Calif.) futures on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence also remain in peril, as McCarthy has similarly promised to boot both California Democrats from the powerful panel.

McCarthy has cited accusations that Schiff, the former chair of the Intelligence Committee, lied to the public about the extent of former President Trump’s ties to Russia during his 2016 campaign and exaggerated the central assertion of Trump’s first impeachment.

The first impeachment, which Schiff led, accused Trump of pressuring Ukrainian officials to investigate his political rivals by threatening to withhold aid.

In Swalwell’s case, McCarthy has pointed to his ties to an alleged Chinese spy who helped fundraise for the congressman in 2014. However, Swalwell reportedly cut ties with the individual after the FBI informed him of her identity.

Swalwell was also an impeachment manager for Trump’s second impeachment over his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Schiff’s and Swalwell’s positions on the Intelligence Committee are in a particularly precarious state, given that McCarthy can unilaterally reject their appointments without bringing a resolution to the House floor for a vote. 

Santos gets committee assignments

George Santos

Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., departs after attending a House GOP conference meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), the embattled first-term lawmaker who has admitted to lying about his background on the campaign trail, was seated on the Small Business Committee and Science, Space and Technology Committee on Tuesday.

McCarthy had confirmed last week that Santos would be seated on committees, even as several members of the Republican conference called for his resignation.

“I try to stick by the Constitution. The voters elected him to serve. If there is a concern, and he has to go through the Ethics [Committee], let him move through that,” McCarthy told reporters.

Santos is facing investigations on multiple fronts, as his claims about his background continue to unravel. The Nassau County district attorney and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York have both launched probes into the New York Republican, while Brazilian authorities reopened a fraud case against Santos from 2008.

Complaints have also been filed with the House Ethics Committee and Federal Election Commission over allegations that Santos falsified his financial disclosures and violated campaign finance laws.

McCarthy detractors get seats on Financial Services, Appropriations panels

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) addresses reporters after a closed-door House Republican conference meeting on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) addresses reporters after a closed-door House Republican conference meeting on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

Several Republican members who opposed McCarthy’s bid for Speaker, drawing out the fight over a historic four days and 15 ballots, received seats on top House panels last week.

Of the 20 members of the anti-McCarthy group, Reps. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) and Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.) were both appointed to the Financial Services Committee, while Reps. Michael Cloud (R-Texas) and Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) found their way on to the Appropriations Committee. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) also maintained his spot on the Financial Services Committee.

While GOP leadership has said that no members were promised committee assignments as part of its negotiations during the Speaker fight, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) noted last week that they did agree to ensure that “committees are represented by a whole swath of our membership.”

This has largely translated into providing hard-line conservatives with more spots on prominent committees. 

Foxx gets waiver to lead Education panel

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) at a House Education and Labor Committee hearing examining the policies and priorities of the Department of Labor on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) at a House Education and Labor Committee hearing examining the policies and priorities of the Department of Labor on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) was selected to chair the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, after receiving a waiver from GOP leadership.

House GOP rules only permit members to serve as the head of a committee for three consecutive terms. As Foxx is beginning her fourth term as the top Republican on the education panel, she required a waiver to serve as chair.