House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) are collaborating on a task force aimed at establishing a process to remove lawmakers from committees.
Kevin McCarthy and Hakeem Jeffries have agreed to create a bipartisan task force to forge a new process for removing House lawmakers from their committees, McCarthy's office confirms to Axios.
— Axios (@axios) February 24, 2023
Sources say that McCarthy is already scouting members for the committee while Jefferies looks for eligible Democrats to participate.
The lawmakers who have been invited to join the task force include Reps. Nancy Mace (R-SC), Ken Buck (R-CO), David Joyce (R-OH), Tom Cole (R-OK), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Nikema Williams (D-GA) and Veronica Escobar (D-TX). Mace will be assigned as chair of the panel.
The need for a set process to remove lawmakers from committees results from criticisms of a system in which the House majority party has veto authority over committee assignments of the minority party.
The move follows a fallout from the House removal of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from the Foreign Affairs Committee after she made heavily-criticized statements. While all but one House Republican voted in favor of her removal from the committee, the eviction was followed by misgivings and concerns that it lacked due process.
Many GOP leaders drew similarities between the process and the one that had Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) kicked off their committees in 2021 during the previous Congress under Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Accusations of spreading “racist conspiracy theories” had Greene evicted from the Budget and Education and Labor Committee while Gosar got blocked from sitting on the Oversight and Reform and Natural Resources committees due to a video he posted.
In January, Democrats in the House brought up Greene and Gosar’s 2021 removal from their committees after McCarthy blocked Reps. Adam Schiff (R-CA) and Eric Swalwell (R-CA) from the Intelligence Committee. According to Democrats, the move was an abuse of McCarthy’s powers and retaliation for Greene and Gosar’s removal.
While McCarthy denied the accusations of bias and gave multiple reasons for the move, he promised to work on the grievances and create a bipartisan committee that would have guidelines for removing lawmakers from committees.
With the panel in place, the House can avoid protests from the minority party that usually come after a committee eviction.