‘This is about the First Amendment’
The new Republican-majority House voted Tuesday afternoon to create a select subcommittee to investigate the “weaponization of the government” by federal law enforcement agencies under Democrat President Joe Biden’s administration.
The special panel would have various functions, including the authority to have subpoena power to receive information on intelligence-related activity that’s typically only shared with the House Intelligence Committee.
It would also have the authority to probe the federal government’s expansive role in investigations on U.S. citizens, including in ongoing criminal investigations. The panel would also have the power to probe how federal agencies communicate with private companies to collect information on Americans, according to the text of the resolution.
The resolution to create the “Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government” passed on a straight party-line vote of 221-211.
The panel is part of the House Judiciary Committee. Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is also expected to chair it. It would comprise 15 members—nine Republicans and six Democrats—to be appointed by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who chairs the House Rules Committee, said the new panel is modeled on the Church Committee, a U.S. Senate select committee in 1975 that investigated U.S. intelligence agencies. That committee “uncovered and exposed a wide variety of abuses, including many [abuses] directed against American citizens,” Cole told fellow lawmakers 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.”