The House of Representatives has passed a resolution to create a panel to investigate the alleged “weaponization of the government” by federal law enforcement agencies under the Biden Administration. The move, which passed on a straight party-line vote of 221-211, has been met with both support and criticism.
Tuesday afternoon, the newly Republican-controlled House decided to establish a special committee to look into the “weaponization of the government” by federal law enforcement under the tenure of Democrat President Joe Biden.
This subcommittee would have the power to subpoena information typically only shared with the House Intelligence Committee.
The select subcommittee, as per the resolution (read below), would also have the authority to examine the federal government’s participation in investigations concerning American citizens, including ongoing criminal cases. Additionally, it would have the power to investigate how federal agencies interact with private companies to gather information on American citizens.
The motion to form the “Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government” was approved with a vote of 221-211, with the majority of the votes coming from the same party.
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The select subcommittee is under the jurisdiction of the House Judiciary Committee. The Chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is expected to lead it. The panel will be made up of 15 members, with nine Republicans and six Democrats selected by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Chairman of the House Rules Committee, said the new panel is modeled after the Church Committee, a U.S. Senate select committee established in 1975 that examined U.S. intelligence agencies. He stated that the Church Committee “uncovered and exposed a wide variety of abuses, including many [abuses] directed against American citizens,” while addressing fellow legislators on the House floor on Tuesday.
“Similar to the situation that confronted America in the 1970s, in recent years we have witnessed abuses of the civil liberties of American citizens committed by the executive branch,” Cole said, adding that such violations are “often for political purposes.”
He said the newly-created panel “will be tasked with studying and reporting on the executive branch’s authority to collect information on or otherwise investigate citizens of the United States.”
“The American people deserve to have confidence in their government,” Cole said. “They deserve to know that the broad powers granted to the federal government through the FBI, to the Department of Homeland Security, and to the intelligence agencies, are not being abused.”
“They deserve to know that the executive branch is not positioning itself as the final arbiter of what constitutes truth,” he continued. “And they deserve to know that they will not be labeled a domestic terrorist for advocating for their children in front of a school board.”
‘This is About the First Amendment’
Democrats are concerned about a provision that allows the committee to investigate “ongoing criminal investigations,” which are normally beyond the scope of legislative oversight.
“This is a violation of separation of powers, and it’s also very dangerous,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.
Critics have alleged that Republicans could use the expanded power of the subcommittee to interfere with ongoing investigations into the January 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol, as well as former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents, which prompted an FBI raid on his Florida property in August 2022.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) derided the panel on the House floor late Tuesday, calling it “nothing more than a deranged ploy by the MAGA extremists who have hijacked the party and want to use taxpayer money to push their far-right conspiracy nonsense.”
Jordan disputed that claim on the House floor.
“A ploy? It’s not a ploy when the Department of Justice treats parents as terrorists—moms and dads simply showing up at a school board meeting to advocate for their son or daughter,” Jordan said. “It’s not a ploy when the FBI pays Twitter $3 million to censor American citizens.”
“It’s not a ploy when the Department of Homeland Security tries to set up a ‘disinformation governance board’ because we all know that the department of homeland security can tell what’s good speech and what is bad speech,” he continued. “You got to be kidding me. I’ll tell you what—dozens of whistleblowers have come talked to Republican staff on the Judiciary Committee doesn’t think this is a ploy. That’s why they talked to us. They know how serious this is.”
A 1,000-page report titled “FBI Whistleblowers: What Their Disclosures Indicate About the Politicization of the FBI and Justice Department” was published in November 2022 by Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee. The report demonstrated how the Justice Department and the FBI misused their power to target conservatives for political ends, citing several instances and whistleblower revelations.
Jordan continued: “This [committee] is about the First amendment. Something you guys [Democrats] used to care about. I would hope we could get bipartisan agreement on protecting the First Amendment—the five rights we enjoy as Americans under the First Amendment: Your right to practice your faith, assemble, right to petition the government, freedom of press, freedom of speech. Every single one’s been attacked in the last two years.”
“The government was telling people they couldn’t go to church a few years ago,” he noted. “Your right to assemble, petition the government—the Democrats kept the Capitol closed, a citizen couldn’t come to your Capitol that you pay for to redress your grievances because Nancy Pelosi wouldn’t let you in!”
“Freedom of the press—I just told you what the head of the intel committee tried to do to a journalist,” he continued. “The most important right we have, though, is your right to talk. Because if you can’t talk, you can’t practice your faith. You can’t share your faith. You can’t petition your government. The right to speak is the most important, and that’s what they [the federal government agencies] are going after.”
Read the document below: