WASHINGTON — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries have agreed to create a bipartisan task force that will establish a process to remove members from committees, aides for the two lawmakers told NBC News.
McCarthy, R-Calif., has already begun the process of reaching out to members to join the committee and Jeffries, D-N.Y., will also offer up a list of Democrats to participate, the aides said.
McCarthy proposed the concept after the fallout from his decision to call for a vote of the full House that ultimately removed Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., from the Foreign Affairs Committee, according to the aides.
The lawmakers who have been asked serve on the task force are: Republican Reps. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, who has been offered the position of chair; Tom Cole of Oklahoma; Ken Buck of Colorado and David Joyce of Ohio; as well as Democratic Reps. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts; Veronica Escobar of Texas; Nikema Williams of Georgia and Derek Kilmer of Washington, according to multiple people familiar with the matter, both Republican and Democrat.
News of their move to create the task force was first reported by The Washington Post.
Several Republicans had expressed concerns that the system to remove Omar lacked proper due process. They had compared it to the process, under then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which removed Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., from their committee assignments in the last Congress, according to the leadership aides.
In February 2021, the House, then controlled by Democrats, voted to remove Greene from the Budget Committee and the Education and Labor Committee after her social media posts revealed she was spreading dangerous and racist conspiracy theories. Later that year, in November, the House voted to remove Gosar from his two committees — Oversight and Reform and Natural Resources — after he posted an animated video that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and attacking Joe Biden.
McCarthy ultimately won over the votes to remove Omar from some of the members in his caucus who expressed reservations like Mace and Buck by promising them he would work to create this task force, according to the aides.
House Republicans voted earlier this month to oust Omar from Foreign Affairs Committee after McCarthy had faced a handful of defections from within his party.
But he managed to whip GOP members back in line, and 218 Republicans voted to back the resolution, which condemned Omar for antisemitic comments. A day before the vote, Buck said he would change his vote to yes after having talked to McCarthy, saying the speaker appeared open to a proposed rule change that would make it harder to kick lawmakers off committees.
And moments before the vote, Mace, the last GOP holdout, emerged from McCarthy’s office and said she would also vote yes. She said she had gotten a commitment from McCarthy to develop a better process to remove members from committees.
After Republicans took control of the House this year, they reinstated Greene and Gosar on committees again.