Jan 29, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Big-name Dems face McCarthy’s firebrands on oversight

Photo illustration of Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kevin McCarthy, and Marjorie Taylor Greene with lines and squares behind them

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: David Dee Delgado, Drew Angerer and Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Democrats are gearing up for a fight, with senior members acknowledging that countering Republican firebrands was a factor in deciding who to appoint to the House Oversight Committee.

Why it matters: Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the panel, told Axios he wanted to assemble a team equipped to “refute and debunk any nonsense that comes down the pipe,” adding, “I would gladly put them up against everyone who’s come from the other side.”

  • Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), a member of the Democrats’ steering committee, told Axios: “We expect [Republicans on Oversight] to be pretty belligerent and we need some pugnacious members who are ready for that.”

The details: Democrats tapped some of the highest profiles in their freshman class in addition to Democratic stars already seated on the committee, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) — anticipating heated hearings.

  • The list includes Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), who has grabbed headlines as the first Gen. Z member of Congress, and Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), the lead counsel for Democrats during the first impeachment of former President Trump.
  • They join progressive personalities such as Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Raskin, a former impeachment manager and Jan. 6 committee member.
  • Ocasio-Cortez lauded the new members as “amazing stars” and said together they form a “rock-star team.” Bush said they are “dynamic freshmen … [who] aren't afraid to speak directly to an issue.”

What we're watching: This committee is set to be a hub of controversial investigations into the Biden administration— described by its chair as “probably the most exciting committee” in congressional history.

  • “I think we’re going to have a lot of fun. I think I’m going to have a lot of fun on this committee,” said Ocasio-Cortez, who gave up a seat on the Financial Services Committee to stay on Oversight.

The other side: The Republican roster is a who’s who of Freedom Caucus members and McCarthy rebels, including...

  • Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), who were stripped of committee assignments last year.
  • Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) and Scott Perry (R-Pa.) — all of whom initially voted against McCarthy during the speaker elections.

What they’re saying: The new members signaled a clear-eyed understanding about their role for the next two years. “It’s football, right,” said Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.). “When the offense comes on the field, you put on the defense to match.”

  • Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) told Axios, “Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar … I’m fired up to take them on directly.”
  • “There are going to be a lot of debates and it’s going to be very politically charged, very intense,” said Frost, “But I ran on being a fighter. So I’m ready for it.”

What’s next: The committee is already readying for its first hearings, with one on the “waste of taxpayer dollars” in COVID-19 relief programs scheduled for Wednesday.

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