Ilhan Omar, at times a lightning rod for House Democrats, is now a unifying force in her party’s quest to frustrate the GOP at every turn.
The member of the so-called progressive “squad” knew even before starting her third term in Congress that she’d face Republicans’ long-promised threat to remove her from the Foreign Affairs Committee. And the Minnesota lawmaker is seemingly daring them to try.
On Tuesday, in a subtle stiff-arm of a GOP eviction attempt that her party has blamed on politically motivated revenge, her office announced the formation of a “U.S.-Africa Policy Working Group” aimed at fostering dialogue on Africa-related policy. The move carried a fatalistic air, given that the Somali immigrant would become the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs subpanel overseeing Africa — if the GOP let her stay.
With what she sees as some of her most important work on the Hill under threat, Omar’s fellow Democrats are rallying around her and looking past the previous controversies, including members who once criticized her for remarks on Israel and U.S. foreign policy. No longer a fresh-faced new member, she’s formed alliances with powerful players and groups who are ready to jump to her defense. Asked about her Democratic support in a Tuesday interview with POLITICO, Omar responded with the advice she said her father used to give: “It’s hard to hate up close.”
It’s clear that Omar sees the Foreign Affairs panel as more than just a committee position. The assignment is personal, given her background as a Black Muslim woman whose family had fled the Somali Civil War. After bearing firsthand witness to the impact of the Cold War on U.S. policy in Africa, she said, she even campaigned on wanting to be on the panel — making her one of the few lawmakers to do so besides a former chair, Eliot Engel.
After coming to the U.S. admiring the country’s ideals, Omar said, her goal was to “make sure those values and ideals are actually being lived out in the policies that we put forth and the ways in which we carry out those policies, and that they don’t just remain a myth.”
And the fight to keep her spot has become personal, too. Controversy over her past comments has aimed a deluge of invectives, abuse and even death threats at the high-profile progressive. Just before the interview Tuesday, her office received a phone call unpleasant enough that a staffer politely ended the call within seconds of picking up.
“This isn’t about reprimand. This isn’t about accountability, because I’ve held myself accountable,” she said.
Fellow “squad” member Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) attributed the rush to boot Omar to fellow lawmakers making snap judgments based on sound bites or tweets before getting to know her personally, describing an unwillingness to “get the context to understand the person, meet the person and know the person.”
“But I think that since she’s been here, people have been able to see who she is, and to understand her position better,” Bush said.
If Republicans do prevail in Wednesday’s vote to remove Omar from her Foreign Affairs perch, she said she worries about it further dividing the panel — injecting more partisan politics into an area that typically requires more cross-party unity on both policy and bipartisan trips abroad.
Her Republican counterpart on the Africa subpanel, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) has been publicly noncommittal on how he’ll vote on the removal resolution, and she observed that when Democrats eventually retake the House, “I will have the gavel, and they will end up being my ranking, and that changes the dynamic and the relationship.”
Meanwhile, Democrats have been trying to lobby their Republican colleagues to support Omar. New York Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), the party’s top member on the Foreign Affairs panel, said some Republicans had privately indicated to him they wished the whole issue would just “go away” because they didn’t actually want to vote to remove her, though the New Yorker declined to identify whom.
Omar too said she had been talking with “a few” Republicans about her panel assignment, but she also declined to name the members.
And she’s not alone in her fight, drawing from strong wells of support both within the Congressional Black Caucus and among previously critical Democrats. She’s been spotted having intense, one-on-one conversations during votes this week with some of Democrats’ strongest Israel proponents, like Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), and had a long hallway conversation with Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who’s long helped lead an annual tour to Israel.
“I think we’re rallying around her like we would any member,” said Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), who as Black Caucus chair last Congress made a point of building bridges with the group’s more liberal members like Omar.
Then there’s Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), who’d condemned Omar’s rhetoric in previous rounds of controversy in what he said “now seems like forever ago.” But in this case, he added, “to politicize the committee assignments is something I think either side shouldn’t be doing. It should be based on current actions and current deeds.”
Republicans, on the other hand, are projecting confidence they’ll be able to round up the votes in the end. And there are some positive signs for GOP leaders — Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.), who’d previously opposed removing Omar from Foreign Affairs, signaled on Tuesday she was open to changing her mind. The House Rules Committee took up a resolution to remove Omar from the panel Tuesday evening, with a vote expected on Wednesday.
The GOP is citing Omar’s previous comments that appeared to lean into antisemitic tropes as the reason it’s moving to force her off the Foreign Affairs Committee. Certain tweets not long after she came to Congress had even enraged some of her fellow Democrats, though she deleted the posts and has apologized.
She also drew a conservative backlash for comments in 2019 about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which she said Republican critics have taken out of context. She also quickly clarified and apologized two years later for comments on war crimes that appeared to compare the U.S. and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban.
And she’s plainly frustrated that Republicans have forcibly compared her with Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), two conservatives whom Democrats removed from committees last Congress with some GOP support in response to incendiary rhetoric aimed at fellow lawmakers. She’s aggressively made the case that her situation is entirely different.
“I would love for this to be an actual debate. But it’s a smear, it is an attack, and to me in many ways it feels like it’s McCarthyism that’s being carried out by the new McCarthy,” she said.
Olivia Beavers contributed to this report.
Embattled Rep. George Santos’ longtime campaign treasurer told the Federal Election Commission Tuesday that she resigned from his campaign and affiliated committees last week.
Nancy Marks, who had served as treasurer for Santos’ 2020 and 2022 campaigns as well as campaigns of other New York politicians including former Rep. Lee Zeldin, said she had left the post last week. And a year-end filing submitted late Tuesday night listed Andrew Olson as the Santos campaign’s new treasurer.
Those filings added yet another layer of intrigue to the drama that has engulfed Santos after the congressman was caught faking much of his biography. And they raise questions about how the congressman managed to prop up his campaign.
Marks, who had been listed as the treasurer for Santos’ campaign and affiliated committees, told the FEC she had resigned from that post effective last Wednesday. That was the same day both those groups filed amended forms claiming Tom Datwyler, who has served as treasurer for many GOP candidates, was now the treasurer.
But a lawyer for Datwyler said he had not agreed to serve in the role. The FEC then asked Santos’ campaign to clarify the situation. Tuesday’s filing was the first to name Olson as the treasurer. The report also included a note saying it was “filed based on the limited information provided to the campaign from the previous treasurer Nancy Marks.”
Despite telling the FEC she had resigned from each of Santos’ affiliated committees effective Jan. 25, Marks was still listed as the treasurer on the termination report for a joint fundraising committee for Santos and Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas). That report bore her electronic signature dated Jan. 30. Marks was also on a year-end report for a recount committee Santos had formed in 2020.
Campaigns must have treasurers in order to accept donations, make disbursements and file mandated reports with the FEC.
Santos’ campaign finances have come under intense scrutiny in the past month. Campaign finance complaints with the FEC have alleged that over $700,000 Santos initially reported as a personal loan to his campaign — despite a checkered personal financial history — may have actually represented an illegal straw donor scheme.
The New York congressman’s campaign also reported a series of improbable expenses, including dozens supposedly costing $199.99 — just one cent below the threshold that would require the campaign to keep receipts. As treasurer, Marks signed the forms reporting those expenses and the personal loans, although an amended filing last week no longer included a checked box indicating that money had come from Santos’ personal funds.
Santos has not been charged with a crime or faced enforcement action from the campaign finance regulator, although he is being investigated by local and federal prosecutors. The Washington Post reported last week that the Department of Justice asked the FEC to hold off on enforcement action against Santos as the department pursues its own probe.
Santos, who said Tuesday he would step aside from his committee assignments, dismissed questions about his FEC filings last week, telling reports in Washington he “[did] not touch any of [his] FEC stuff.”
House Democrats are placing Rep. Adam Schiff on a high-profile committee at the center of combating Republican investigations for the next two years, fresh off Speaker Kevin McCarthy booting him from another panel.
The California Democrat is one of a roster of party fighters who will now serve on the House Judiciary or Oversight Committees, with the full lineup of members approved by the House this week. Those Democrats will have to strategize how to counter to some of Republicans most high-profile and politically controversial probes, including into Hunter Biden and the Biden family, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and a broad sweep into the FBI and Justice Department.
Much of the House Judiciary Committee Democratic roster, led by ranking member Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), is a slimmed-down mirror of last year’s line-up — besides the addition of Schiff, who officially launched a Senate bid last week shortly after McCarthy blocked him from the top party spot on the Intelligence Committee, and Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-Md.).
Democrats will get their first test run on pushing back against Republicans on the panel, chaired by McCarthy-antagonist-turned-ally Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), on Wednesday during the committee’s first hearing, centered on the border. In addition to investigations, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee will be at the forefront of any impeachment inquiries, as Republicans have called for forcibly removing Mayorkas over his handling of the border.
Meanwhile, several new freshmen members have joined the Oversight Committee, including Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), who was counsel to House Democrats during the first impeachment of former President Donald Trump.
The panel’s Democrats also named Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to serve as vice ranker, a possibility reported by POLITICO last week. It’s a move that could be highly significant if Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) has to miss hearings as he undergoes cancer treatment.
The new members “have come from all over America to fight for their communities. Now they join the Democrats on the Oversight and Accountability Committee — the ‘Truth Squad’ — to conduct thorough and fact-based oversight to ensure an effective, efficient, and accountable American government that delivers for the American people,” Raskin said in a statement about Democrats’ line up.
Republicans on the Oversight Committee have vowed to investigate dozens of areas within the Biden administration. But they’ve signaled panel Republicans’ main focus will be targeting President Joe Biden himself, primarily by delving into Hunter Biden’s business dealings and other members of the Biden family; the coronavirus pandemic, including federal government directives and the “origins” of the virus; the border, and the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan.
And the panel includes some of the House GOP’s most right-leaning members, including Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Scott Perry (R-Pa.), the chair of the House Freedom Caucus.
Democrats still need to pick their members for a Republican-run select subcommittee that will look into the “weaponization” of the federal government, a concession McCarthy made to conservatives in order to secure the speakership.
McCarthy unveiled the GOP picks for the panel last week, naming 11 Republicans plus Jordan to lead the sweeping committee — more members than expected. The House is expected to pass a resolution expanding the size of the subcommittee, which would proportionally boost the number of Democratic seats.
George Santos, after weeks of causing trouble for Kevin McCarthy, finally relieved some on Tuesday.
The New York Republican announced plans to step aside from his two committee assignments, a decision that came one day after a private meeting with the speaker. While McCarthy wouldn’t say if he directly encouraged the move, the cloud of controversy that’s trailing Santos — whose pattern of serial misstatements has sparked multiple investigations — was complicating the GOP leader’s efforts to make good on the planned ouster of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from a key committee.
That’s in addition to the distraction that Santos himself was becoming for House Republicans, given the spectacle he’d create at otherwise straightforward hearings. So in one fell swoop, the freshman fabricator helped relieve two of McCarthy’s biggest current headaches, at least for now, while remaining a reliable floor vote by not resigning.
As the speaker promptly praised Santos’ “appropriate decision,” Republicans across the conference privately agreed that, with Santos off the Science and Small Business Committees, McCarthy’s leadership team may have an easier time rounding up the votes to remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee. That doesn’t mean yanking Omar is a slam-dunk, though — GOP leaders can only lose four votes on their side, assuming full attendance from the likely united Democrats, and three Republicans have publicly stated their opposition.
Senior Republicans are leaning hard on those three and several other undecided Republicans, but two of them made clear the outreach hadn’t worked: “Oh, he’s called me yelling,” Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said of McCarthy. Referring to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s removal of two of Buck’s fellow Freedom Caucus members from their committees in 2021, Buck added that “I’m just not interested in removing members from the other party in retaliation for Pelosi’s terrible decisions.”
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), who’s also opposed to removing Omar, said on Tuesday that “I ran on being an independent voice and I will continue to do that. … I don’t care how much pressure people put on me.
“All things that I thought Republicans stood for and stood against,” she added, “we’re doing the opposite of that right now.”
Mace also pointed to “rumors of others being undecided, but who are not being vocal about it.” Two other House Republicans — Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Tim Burchett of Tennessee — say they have not made up their minds ahead of the vote on ousting Omar.
And while some Republican members privately said this week that Rep. Victoria Spartz had changed her mind, the Indiana Republican’s chief of staff, Liz Dessauer, told POLITICO she “is not changing her mind and has been very consistent that her issue is a lack of due process and equal justice under the law.”
Mace sounded a similar note, cautioning that the language of the bill matters and so does due process for members who face removal from committees their leaders have assigned them. The South Carolina Republican wouldn’t say if she was open to allowing the vote to pass by other means — such as voting present or missing the vote, and said she was still trying to read the language of the resolution.
Notably, House Republicans who oppose or are on the fence about taking Omar off the foreign affairs panel are largely agreed with the rest of their conference in criticizing the Minnesota progressive, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.
Mace slammed Omar as “racist,” and an “antisemite” — a reference to her past criticisms of Israel, which Omar has apologized or attempted to clarify amid Democratic pushback — but then added: “That doesn’t give us a right as a conference to tell her what she should say or how or what her opinion should be.”
As McCarthy privately applies strong pressure to key holdouts as his leadership team’s anti-Omar whip count staggers, speaking one-on-one with Mace on Tuesday, absences on his side of the aisle are also a concern. Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.), for one, is still recovering after sustaining critical injuries from a 25-foot fall.
Afterward, McCarthy said he and Mace had a good discussion where he “just wanted to lay all the facts out,” arguing that there is “a lot of difference [between] what we’re doing [and] what Democrats” did during the last Congress by removing Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) from the committees in response to incendiary or threatening rhetoric.
Asked if he’s confident they have the votes, GOP Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) demurred but said: “We’ll see when [Democrats] make their committee assignments.”
That committee-seating process hasn’t been entirely simple for Republicans, either. Santos — who’s under a slew of local and federal investigations — had continued to grab headlines as he was assigned to his own pair of panels. In a statement on his decision, the New Yorker avowed that “the business of the 118th Congress must continue without media fanfare.”
Santos’ move was quickly embraced by his home-state GOP colleagues, several of whom have already called for his resignation amid the growing controversy over his misstatements about his past.
“I think it’s obvious it’s the right decision,” said Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), who toppled House Democrats’ former campaign chief in a swing-district midterm triumph two months ago.
Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.) echoed that sentiment: “As I said, I think he should resign and focus on his defense. But, do welcome this decision.”
Santos declined to comment when first asked about the move Tuesday morning, later pointing to the party’s push to punish Omar for her own past remarks.
And there appeared to be some uncertainty on Tuesday about whether Santos — who faces multiple investigations on the federal, state and local levels into potential false statements about his background — would try to return to his committees at some point. McCarthy said that any members named to fill the spots Santos is forgoing would take those seats on a temporary basis, and Santos described his decision as similarly short-term in his statement.
Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) said Tuesday morning that Santos had apologized and described his move as a temporary recusal, after which “he’ll come back” to the panels he’d not yet been seated on.
“It sounded to me like it’s temporary,” said Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas), who chairs the Small Business Committee. “I think, until there’s a level of what he thinks the issues that he’s a distraction from are over.”
Despite the multiple probes Santos is currently dealing with, Williams said he didn’t sense the move stemmed from looming legal issues.
“I’ve seen members do that before, usually when they were under some sort of legal question or something like that — just step back on their own. If they don’t do it, we quite often do it ourselves,” House Rules Chair Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said, adding that Santos “deserves some credit for doing it” before any internal move that may have been made against him.
The small business panel had not yet named its Republican members as of Tuesday. A panel spokesperson attributed the delay on Monday to reasons other than Santos.
Jordain Carney contributed to this report.
House Democrats are set to launch a new arm of leadership dedicated to fulfilling a longtime party goal — promoting regionally diverse voices to communicate about their legislative wins — and they’re putting a familiar face in charge: Steny Hoyer.
Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries will announce later Monday that he’s creating a Regional Leadership Council, with one Democrat representing each of a dozen regions across the country. Hoyer will chair the new effort, lending it two decades of party leadership experience and close ties to the Biden administration.
Jeffries invited the then-outgoing House majority leader to take the lead on the council late last year. As the Marylander navigates life on the Hill after leadership, along with former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and former whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the role is likely to ensure Hoyer maintains relevance and influence within the caucus.
And the regional group’s goals, which are focused on giving Democratic lawmakers a say in the implementation and rollout of last Congress’ major legislative achievements — from the bipartisan infrastructure bill to the party-line Inflation Reduction Act — Hoyer’s new role will also keep him in close contact with the White House. Jeffries has discussed his new regional strategy with President Joe Biden, and he said in a statement to POLITICO that the council “will guide our partnership with the Biden administration.”
Hoyer said in an interview Monday that he’s already begun working with Mitch Landrieu, the Biden administration official overseeing the implementation of the infrastructure bill, as well as Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo: “Leader Jeffries wants to make sure that the American people got the best results possible from the legislation that was passed and that they know what has been done for their regions.”
Work is already underway in Hoyer’s home state. He’s slated to join Biden in Baltimore for a Monday event on a major infrastructure project that promises to loosen a critical northeastern rail chokepoint — exactly the type of messaging moment that Democrats hope to host across the country as the infrastructure bill’s hundreds of billions of dollars in spending gush into districts.
The regional group’s focus on the previous Congress is no accident: Democrats know they face a challenge heading into 2024, with the Republican-controlled House planning to hand no easy victories to Biden’s party. Democrats will, as a result, need to campaign on wins they’ve already secured — which explains their plans for reinvigorated messaging around what they’ve delivered.
The group is “very focused on making sure that every region of the country — not just some — but every region of the country is advantaged and we meet their needs so that we can grow their jobs, grow their wealth, grow their wages,” Hoyer said Monday.
Hoyer said the group “may well be” a more permanent part of the House Democratic Caucus’ organization in future Congresses but emphasized that it’s just getting started.
According to an early roster, the members of the new Regional Leadership Council in addition to Hoyer will be Democratic Reps. Tony Cárdenas (Calif.), Jared Huffman (Calif.), Angie Craig (Minn.), Robin Kelly (Ill.), Derek Kilmer (Wash.), Lizzie Fletcher (Texas), Troy Carter (La.), Darren Soto (Fla.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (Del.), Madeleine Dean (Pa.), Grace Meng (N.Y.) and Lori Trahan (Mass.).
The group has plans to meet all together by mid-February, Hoyer said.
Kevin McCarthy has told House Republicans to treat every committee like the Oversight panel — that is, use every last bit of authority to dig into the Biden administration. That work begins in earnest this week.
Several sprawling probes — largely directed at President Joe Biden, his family and his administration — set the stage for a series of legal and political skirmishes between the two sides of Pennsylvania Avenue. It’s all with an eye on the true battle, the 2024 election, as Biden flirts with a reelection run and House Republicans hope to expand their control to the White House.
After two impeachments of former President Donald Trump and a select committee that publicly detailed his every last move to unsuccessfully overturn the 2020 election results, GOP lawmakers are eager to turn the spotlight. And their conservative base is hoping for fireworks, calling on Republican leaders to grill several Biden world figures, including Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, retired chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci and presidential son Hunter Biden.
But GOP leadership has to mind its swing-district members and centrists, whose jobs are on the line if the strategy backfires in 2024, as early calls to impeach Mayorkas have sparked grumbling in that camp. Striking the right balance will be a difficult lift, even without Democrats constantly blasting the investigations as revenge politics run amok.
Regardless, the GOP’s investigative firehose will leave few parts of the administration untouched. POLITICO has been chatting with lawmakers, aides and outside allies about Republicans’ plans. Here’s a field guide to navigating the investigative landscape, with hearings expected to start this week:
A top priority for Republicans is investigating Hunter Biden, with Joe Biden being the party’s ultimate target of the probe. GOP lawmakers are hunting for a smoking gun that will directly connect the president’s decisions to his son’s business dealings. No evidence has yet emerged to show that the clients taken on by Hunter Biden, who’s been under a years-long federal investigation, affected his father’s decisions as president.
The public phase of the Republican investigation will kick off on Feb. 8, with the Oversight Committee expected to hold a hearing on Twitter and its handling of a 2020 New York Post story on Hunter Biden. Twitter initially restricted users’ ability to share the article, with top officials characterizing the decision as a mistake in the aftermath.
House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) has invited testimony from three former employees — James Baker, former Twitter deputy general counsel; Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former global head of trust and safety; and Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s former chief legal officer. A GOP committee aide told POLITICO that they “expect” the former employees to testify. (POLITICO has not undergone the process to authenticate the Hunter Biden laptop that underpinned the New York Post story, but reporter Ben Schreckinger has confirmed the authenticity of some emails on it.)
Beyond that, Comer is re-upping questions to a gallery selling Hunter Biden’s art. The chair is also asking for Treasury Department Suspicious Activity Reports, or SARs, related to Hunter Biden and his associates. Those records are filed by financial institutions and don’t necessarily suggest wrongdoing but are frequently used as investigative leads.
Comer warned he is willing to subpoena the relevant records after Treasury rejected his initial request, saying it needed to engage in discussions with the committee about the thrust of its investigation.
The Kentuckian has vowed that his committee’s Hunter Biden investigation will be “credible,” but GOP leadership’s decision to name some of the conference’s most conservative members to the committee, including Reps. Scott Perry (Pa.), Paul Gosar (Ariz.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), is raising fresh skepticism about that among Democrats and their allies.
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) warned that the ascension of Oversight panel conservatives would “infect the credibility of the committee,” including on investigations.
House Republicans will soon formally launch a multi-committee investigation into the nation’s southern border and DHS, all with an eye on Mayorkas.
The Judiciary Committee will hold its first hearing on Feb. 1, focused on the border — with Republicans warning that it’s only “part one” of the public grilling. The Oversight Committee will follow suit during the following week of Feb. 6. Comer invited four Border Patrol officials to testify. In return DHS offered Border Patrol chief Raul Ortiz and a member briefing with the four officials Comer asked for, sparking stonewalling accusations and threats of possible subpoenas from the GOP chair.
The GOP’s border hearings come as the party has struggled to reach a consensus about how to move forward legislatively, including a split between two Texas Republicans: Reps. Chip Roy, who’d prefer a more conservative approach, and the more centrist Tony Gonzales.
The border investigations also come as the party faces pressure from both its right flank and its base voters to take the historically rare step of trying to impeach Mayorkas.
Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) recently became the new majority’s first Republican to introduce an impeachment resolution, which targeted Mayorkas. A second group of Republicans, led by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), is expected to unveil impeachment articles against Mayorkas this week.
Republicans are planning to house a wide-ranging probe of the Justice Department and FBI under the Judiciary Committee and a new subcommittee — created as a concession to conservative detractors during the speaker’s race — focused on what the GOP calls the “weaponization” of the federal government.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a McCarthy antagonist-turned-ally who will chair both the committee and subpanel, has fired off a laundry list of requests to Attorney General Merrick Garland in addition to seeking hearings or transcribed interviews with more than a dozen DOJ officials.
Jordan has sent off a similarly lengthy letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray. He’s warned both that he’s ready to use subpoenas to get information if they don’t comply with his information requests.
Judiciary Republicans are likely to make Biden’s handling of classified documents and last summer’s FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence part of their sweeping DOJ oversight efforts. Two other panels are currently investigating the broader issue of classified document handling and related law enforcement activity: the Oversight and Intelligence Committees.
The Oversight Committee is requesting documents on the matter from the National Archives and has an interview with a top Archives official on the books this week, while the Intelligence Committee wants a security assessment.
After two years of Democratic-led investigations into the pandemic, Republicans are ready to shift the focus with probes of their own.
The Oversight Committee will hold its first hearing on Wednesday about the use of government funding on the coronavirus — homing in on a series of coronavirus relief bills that amounted to trillions of dollars in aid in total. Comer described his focus on coronavirus aid as an attempt to guide the committee toward rooting out “waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.”
But pandemic aid is a topic that the previous Democratic-led House has already visited. A select subcommittee in the previous Congress held a hearing last year with federal watchdogs in charge of overseeing pandemic aid funds.
In addition to investigations by the Oversight Committee, Republicans created their own select subcommittee on the pandemic. McCarthy is vowing that the new Covid panel will probe so-called “gain of function” research, which involves the intentional manipulation of viruses and pathogens in ways that could make them more deadly or contagious.
That goal connects to an unproven theory espoused by some Republicans that the coronavirus was intentionally created in a lab.
House Republicans will also use their majority to delve into several foreign policy targets, as they seek to push back on the Biden administration’s decisions abroad.
The most prominent investigation so far stems from a new select committee designed to look at “strategic competition” between the U.S. and China, which is expected to be a major focus of the GOP national security agenda heading into 2024. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), who was tapped by McCarthy to lead that select panel, has said he’ll focus on supply chains, bolstering the U.S. military and privacy and social media — particularly TikTok.
The vote to set up the panel was largely bipartisan, but Democrats cautioned even as they voted for it that Republicans might steer the select committee toward conspiracy theories or xenophobic language.
Beyond China, GOP foreign policy investigations are likely to focus on two other areas: Afghanistan and Ukraine. The Biden administration’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 sparked bipartisan outrage, making it a prime target for the Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees.
Meanwhile, Republicans are also vowing tougher oversight of additional U.S. aid to Ukraine. That sets the stage for intra-party skirmishes between budget hawks or isolationist-leaning lawmakers and a coalition of more establishment-minded Republicans in both the House and Senate who have pledged to greenlight more help.