House to launch bipartisan task force on committee removals
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) have agreed to create a bipartisan task force to forge a new process for removing lawmakers from their committees, McCarthy's office confirmed to Axios.
Why it matters: The task force would address a partisan tit-for-tat over committee assignments that has seen five members of the minority party kicked off panels in the last two years.
- That's a break from the long-standing precedent of party caucuses determining committee assignments internally.
- The news of the task force was first reported by the Washington Post.
The backdrop: The most recent example was a party-line vote earlier this month to kick Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) off the Foreign Affairs Committee.
- That was in retaliation for all Democrats — and a handful of Republicans — voting to kick Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) off their committees in 2021.
- McCarthy also removed Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from the House Intelligence Committee last month.
The details: Jeffries' picks for the task force are Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), Nikema Williams (D-Ga.) and Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), according to a senior leadership aide.
- Each lawmaker has or had a role relevant to the task force: McGovern is the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee; Escobar serves on the Ethics Committee and Williams served on the now-disbanded Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, which Kilmer chaired.
The other side: McCarthy’s picks are Reps. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Dave Joyce (R-Ohio), Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) and Ken Buck (R-Colo.), according to his office.
- Cole chairs the Rules Committee while Joyce serves on the Ethics Committee.
- Buck and Mace had both publicly resisted voting to remove Omar until McCarthy agreed to kickstart reform talks, with Mace specifically securing a commitment to be on the task force.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional reporting.