The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion McCarthy may regret kicking Schiff off House Intelligence Committee

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) meets with other California lawmakers and visitors on Capitol Hill on July 27, 2022, in Washington. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
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It tells you much about the priorities of Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) that he has seated serial fabulist George Santos (R-N.Y.) on multiple House committees while removing Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) from the Intelligence panel he led the past four years.

The full House would have to vote if Mr. McCarthy forges ahead with plans to expel Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the Foreign Affairs Committee, but the speaker has the power to unilaterally block members from the Intelligence panel. Just because Mr. McCarthy has the power, however, doesn’t mean he should have used it.

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This is payback for votes two years ago by the Democratic-led House to remove Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) from their committees. The Editorial Board didn’t endorse that effort at the time because we feared this sort of tit-for-tat cycle. But there are significant differences — starting with the fact that some Republicans joined Democrats in voting to strip Ms. Greene and Mr. Gosar of their assignments. No Democrat has expressed support for this.

Moreover, both of the Republicans had at least implicitly encouraged political violence: Mr. Gosar posted an animated video depicting the murder of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Ms. Greene claimed on social media that deadly school shootings were staged and favorited posts calling for the execution of Democratic leaders and federal agents. Last month, Ms. Greene boasted that she and former Trump aide Stephen K. Bannon would have succeeded if they had organized the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. “We would have won,” she said. “Not to mention, we would’ve been armed.” (She subsequently called this sarcasm.) Both Ms. Greene and Mr. Gosar received coveted slots on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee this year.

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Also on the Editorial Board’s agenda
  • The misery of Belarus’s political prisoners should not be ignored.
  • Biden has a new border plan.
  • The United States should keep the pressure on Nicaragua.
  • America’s fight against inflation isn’t over.
  • The Taliban has doubled down on the repression of women.
  • The world’s ice is melting quickly.
Ihar Losik, one of hundreds of young people unjustly jailed in Belarus for opposing Alexander Lukashenko’s dictatorship, attempted suicide but was saved and sent to a prison medical unit, according to the human rights group Viasna. Losik, 30, a blogger who led a popular Telegram channel, was arrested in 2020 and is serving a 15-year prison term on charges of “organizing riots” and “incitement to hatred.” His wife is also a political prisoner. Read more about their struggle — and those of other political prisoners — in a recent editorial.
The Department of Homeland Security has provided details of a plan to prevent a migrant surge along the southern border. The administration would presumptively deny asylum to migrants who failed to seek it in a third country en route — unless they face “an extreme and imminent threat” of rape, kidnapping, torture or murder. Critics allege that this is akin to an illegal Trump-era policy. In fact, President Biden is acting lawfully in response to what was fast becoming an unmanageable flow at the border. Read our most recent editorial on the U.S. asylum system.
Some 222 Nicaraguan political prisoners left that Central American country for the United States in February. President Daniel Ortega released and sent them into exile in a single motion. Nevertheless, it appears that Mr. Ortega let them go under pressure from economic sanctions the United States imposed on his regime when he launched a wave of repression in 2018. The Biden administration should keep the pressure on. Read recent editorials about the situation in Nicaragua.
Inflation remains stubbornly high at 6.4 percent in January. The Federal Reserve’s job is not done in this fight. More interest rate hikes are needed. Read a recent editorial about inflation and the Fed.
Afghanistan’s rulers had promised that barring women from universities was only temporary. But private universities got a letter on Jan. 28 warning them that women are prohibited from taking university entrance examinations. Afghanistan has 140 private universities across 24 provinces, with around 200,000 students. Out of those, some 60,000 to 70,000 are women, the AP reports. Read a recent editorial on women’s rights in Afghanistan.
A new study finds that half the world’s mountain glaciers and ice caps will melt even if global warming is restrained to 1.5 degrees Celsius — which it won’t be. This would feed sea-level rise and imperil water sources for hundreds of millions. Read a recent editorial on how to cope with rising seas, and another on the policies needed to fight climate change.


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Mr. McCarthy accuses Mr. Schiff of hyping evidence related to Russian interactions with Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and not being forthright about his knowledge of the identity of the whistleblower who filed the complaint, later substantiated, that led to Mr. Trump’s impeachment for shaking down Ukraine. The speaker justified removing Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from the same committee by suggesting he was compromised by a Chinese intelligence operative, but fact-checkers say there is no evidence Mr. Swalwell did anything wrong.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Jan. 24 said he would block California Democratic Reps. Adam B. Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the Intelligence panel. (Video: The Washington Post)

We suspect the real reason Republicans are going after Mr. Schiff is that he has been so effective. Then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had such confidence in Mr. Schiff that she made him — not the chairman of the Judiciary Committee — the point person on the first of Mr. Trump’s impeachments. He also performed valuable service as a member of the select committee that investigated the insurrection.

If Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) retires as many expect in 2024, Mr. Schiff appears likely to run for Senate. It is possible that Mr. McCarthy’s pettiness could redound to the political benefit of his fellow Californian. He might have laid the groundwork for Mr. Schiff to succeed Ms. Feinstein not only as a senator but also in a leading role on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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