House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced on Tuesday which Republicans will serve on politically charged select subcommittees that will investigate the “weaponization” of the federal government and the origins of COVID-19.
The House voted along party lines earlier this month to create the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government to investigate civil liberties issues and how the government and private companies collect and analyze information on Americans, according to the resolution establishing the panel.
The weaponization subcommittee is also expected to probe ongoing criminal investigations, particularly those related to rioters charged with storming the Capitol Building on Jan. 6, 2021, and the two criminal investigations of former President Donald Trump, for his mishandling of classified documents and presidential papers and his alleged role in efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy speaks during a news conference outside of his office at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 24, 2023.Getty Images/Drew Angerer
“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,” McCarthy said in a press release announcing his appointments.
The weaponization subcommittee was championed by members of the House Freedom Caucus who refused to vote for McCarthy (R-Calif.) to be House speaker until they were assured the panel’s composition would contain representation from their caucus.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has been tasked by McCarthy to lead the new panel on weaponization.
Jordan has long criticized the alleged politicization of the FBI and the Justice Department, accusing the agencies of targeting conservatives.
Rep. Jim Jordan will lead the new panel on weaponization. Getty Images/Drew Angerer
“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,” Jordan said earlier this month as the House debated the measure establishing the panel.
“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 are going to do,” he added.
Joining Jordan on the select subcommittee will be Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Chris Stewart (R-Utah), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Mike Johnson (R-La.), Chip Roy (R-Texas), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), Greg Steube (R-Fla.), Dan Bishop (R-NC), Kat Cammack (R-Fla.), and Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.).
Rep. Darrell Issa will serve on the subcommittee.AP/Alex Brandon
Hageman, who ousted former GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, the former vice chairwoman of the House Jan. 6 committee, in Wyoming’s 2022 primary, is the only House freshman on the panel.
Roy and Bishop initially voted against McCarthy for House speaker.
“The American people deserve answers to the myriad questions resulting from the blatant disregard of American’s rights & freedoms by their own government,” Roy wrote in a tweet on Tuesday after his appointment. “This subcommittee will not be afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead & expose the weaponization of the federal government.”
Bishop offered a warning to federal government employees upon learning of his selection.
“Honored to be serving on the Select Subcommittee. If you’re a bureaucrat who violates American’s rights – get ready. We’ll certainly be busy,” Bishop tweeted.
Stefanik, the GOP conference chairwoman, issued a statement vowing to “hold the DOJ and FBI accountable for their longstanding political weaponization.” She also singled out the “IRS, HHS, NIH,” as other agencies the new panel intends to probe.
“The American people have witnessed the corrupt DOJ and FBI fully weaponized against the Biden Administration’s political opponents as they conducted an unprecedented raid on President Trump’s home, illegally paid Twitter to suppress stories for political benefit, and continue to cover up for the Biden Crime Family,” she added.
“There are serious questions about how government agencies have gotten away with this for so long, and we will get to the bottom of how these corrupt agencies are being weaponized against everyday Americans. Accountability is coming, and House Republicans will deliver a government accountable to the people,” her statement concludes.
It appears that Democrats will only have three seats on the weaponization committee, one of whom will be Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee.
The House established a panel on the coronavirus crisis in 2020, but under the new Republican House majority a new subcommittee on the COVID-19 pandemic will be formed to investigate the origins of the virus and the federal government’s role in funding gain of function research.
McCarthy on Tuesday vowed that the members of the coronavirus panel will “finally get answers to the Covid origins and the federal government’s gain of function research that contributed to the pandemic.”
He chose Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) to lead the select subcommittee and appointed Reps. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), Michael Cloud (R-Texas), John Joyce (R-Pa.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), and Rich McCormick (R-Ga.) as the GOP members.
The weaponization subcommittee is filled with members of the House Freedom Caucus who refused to vote for McCarthy.Getty Images
Wenstrup, a physician by trade, and co-chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus, has repeatedly expressed concern that COVID-19 was the result of US-funded gain of function research that took place at a lab in Wuhan, China. He has introduced legislation that would ban direct and indirect funding of gain of function research in China and other countries.
Greene, whose Twitter account was suspended last year for violating the social media company’s policy on COVID-19 misinformation, was appointed to the panel by McCarthy after her staunch support of his speakership bid. Greene voted for McCarthy on all 15 ballots of the marathon process.
The GOP firebrand is making a comeback on panels after the Democrat-run House stripped her of committee assignments in 2021 after social media posts she made endorsing conspiracy theories resurfaced.
McCarthy vowed that Greene would have her privileges to serve on committees restored in a Republican-controlled House and last week he assigned Greene to the House Homeland Security and Oversight Committees as well.
“I will never leave that woman,” McCarthy confided to a friend, according to a New York Times report on Monday.
“I will always take care of her,” he added of his close bond with the Georgia representative now in her second term in Congress.