By Michael Macagnone (originally posted on rollcall.com)
Posted January 10, 2023 at 4:54pm
House Republicans on Tuesday established a select subcommittee to investigate the “weaponization” of the federal government. It will have the power to investigate executive branch agencies and their ties to private sector entities and have oversight of ongoing criminal probes.
The House voted 221-211, along party lines, to approve the resolution to create the subcommittee, one of the first actions of an aggressive Republican approach to oversight since they took control of the chamber.
Republicans likened the panel, which falls under the Judiciary Committee, to prior committees that investigated oversteps by the FBI and intelligence agencies. Democrats called it dangerous and a way for Republicans to interfere with ongoing investigations into former President Donald Trump.
During floor debate, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio pointed to a litany of alleged oversteps by the Justice Department in recent years, including investigations of parents who spoke at local school boards and communications with companies like Twitter about taking down posts during the 2020 election.
“We don’t want to go after anyone, we want it to stop, and we want to respect the First Amendment to the Constitution that the greatest country in the world has,” Jordan said.
Jordan likely will helm the subcommittee, which will have access to information available to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence as well as subpoena power. The panel will include 15 members — nine Republicans and six Democrats approved by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
The resolution directs the panel to issue a final report on its findings before the end of the current Congress on a wide range of topics, including government information collection and potential civil liberties violations of American citizens.
House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., called the panel a “dangerous and unprecedented attack” on law enforcement agencies.
“Make no mistake, the Destroy Democracy Subcommittee will enable the House Republicans to interfere with the free operation of businesses they do not like, to inhibit the fight against domestic terrorism, and to settle political scores on behalf of Donald Trump,” Nadler said in a floor speech.
Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., called the panel “deranged” and compared it to the House Un-American Activities Committee at the height of the Red Scare. McGovern and other Democrats said they viewed the select subcommittee as a partisan exercise following last week’s fight over the speaker gavel.
In a floor speech, McGovern alleged that the panel was created at the behest of those who did not back McCarthy in the rounds of speaker votes, because they were looking to protect Trump.
“There is a reason why after 13 times they added another line giving this committee the authority to look at ongoing criminal investigations,” McGovern said.
Republicans countered by alleging that Democrats have ignored ongoing civil liberties violations by the federal government. Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina, one of the Republicans who objected to McCarthy’s election on several speaker ballots last week, touted the subcommittee’s creation as a victory.
“Today we are putting the deep state on notice. We are coming for you on behalf of everyday Americans,” Bishop said.