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McCarthy names members to investigate abuse of power, weaponization of federal government

By Sarah May on
 January 25, 2023

As the new GOP House majority's priorities continue to take shape, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has tapped a relatively broad spectrum of Republicans to sit on a select subcommittee charged with probing “weaponization” of the federal government, as Politico reports.

According to Fox News, the panel will investigate the manner in which federal agencies within the executive branch have abused information gathering abilities and targeted American citizens, sometimes assisted by private sector entities, with the ultimate aim of holding the current administration accountable for improper overreach over the past two years.

Panel members named

The “weaponization” subcommittee was brought into being earlier this month after a resolution authorizing its creation passed the lower chamber, and its work will entail “a full and complete investigation and study” as well as the production of a final report due by Jan. 2, 2025.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) will be at the helm of the panel, which will include a total of 15 members, nine from the GOP and another six Democrats, though an expansion of the committee's size may be sought in the near future, and it would include a proportional increase in membership for both parties.

The Republicans tapped by McCarthy to serve on the subcommittee run the gamut in that they include longtime allies of the new speaker as well as some members who were initially opposed to his bid to claim the gavel.

Poised to claim seats on the panel are Republican Reps. Darrell Issa (CA), Thomas Massie (KY), Chris Stewart (UT), Mike Johnson (LA), Elise Stefanik (NY), Chip Roy (TX), Greg Steube (FL), Kelly Armstrong (ND), Dan Bishop (NC), Kat Cammack (FL), and Harriet Hageman (WY).

“A new beginning”

In a press release announcing his choices for the subcomittee, McCarthy began by declaring, “The government has a responsibility to serve the American people, not go after them. Unfortunately, throughout Democrats' one-party rule in Washington we saw a dangerous pattern of the government being used to target political opponents while they neglected their most basic responsibilities.”

“The 118th Congress marks a new beginning for this institution,” McCarthy continued. “Republicans' governing agenda will be based on transparency, accountability, and solutions.”

The speaker concluded, “The Members selected to serve on these subcommittees will work to stop the weaponization of the federal government and will also finally get answers to the Covid origins and the federal government's gain of function research that contributed to the pandemic.”

As referenced in McCarthy's press release, Republican members tapped to serve on a select subcommittee on the coronavirus pandemic were also announced Tuesday, and they include Chairman Brad Wenstrup (OH), and Reps. Nicole Malliotakis (NY), Mariannette Miller Meeks (IA), Debbie Lesko (AZ), Michael Cloud (TX), John Joyce (PA), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), Ronny Jackson (TX), and Rich McCormick (GA).

“This is about the First Amendment”

As the New York Post noted, the weaponization panel was something for which House Freedom Caucus members lobbied during the protracted fight for speakership, with some declining to support McCarthy for the top job unless it was created and would include representatives from within their ranks.

Now set to lead the panel, Jordan previously explained to those would oppose its existence, “This is about the First Amendment, something you guys used to care about. And I'd actually hoped we could get bipartisan agreement on protecting the First Amendment – the five rights we enjoy as Americans under the First Amendment.”

“We don't want to go after anyone, we just want it to stop. And we want to respect the First Amendment to the Constitution that the greatest country in the world has. That's what this committee is all about, and that's what we're gonna focus on, that's what we're going to do,” Jordan added.

Roy, who was once an anti-McCarthy holdout, offered his take on the panel's purpose after his appointment was announced, saying, “The American people deserve answers to the myriad questions resulting from the blatant disregard of Americans' rights and freedoms by their own government. This subcommittee will not be afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead and expose the weaponization of the federal government.”

Actions on Intel

In other headline-grabbing news from the speaker's office, McCarthy on Tuesday made official his decision to block Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff (CA) and Eric Swalwell (CA) from taking seats on the House Intelligence Committee, as The Hill reported.

The move came after House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) requested that McCarthy put both congressmen on the panel, something the speaker retains the sole discretion to do.

Referencing issues of concern relating to both Schiff and Swalwell's conduct in recent years, however, McCarthy replied in writing to Jeffries' request, saying, “In order to maintain a standard worthy of this committee's responsibilities, I am hereby rejecting the appointments of Representative Adam Schiff and Representative Eric Swalwell to serve on the Intelligence Committee.”

By asserting that Schiff knowingly made repeated misrepresentations to the American people regarding Trump—Russia collusion claims and about Hunter Biden's laptop and by declaring Swalwell's past entanglements with a Chinese spy to be disqualifying for access to hyper-sensitive Intel Committee information, McCarthy has now made good on a pledge he made to voters well before the midterm election.