Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy is facing backlash after announcing the selection of MAGA Republicans to serve on House select subcommittees to investigate COVID-19 and the “weaponization of government.”
McCarthy on Tuesday announced that a new panel exploring the origins of the pandemic would feature Republicans including Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose personal Twitter account was banned for spreading misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines before being reinstated to the platform under Elon Musk.
The COVID-19 panel, which McCarthy said in a statement would “finally get answers to the Covid origins and the federal government’s gain of function research that contributed to the pandemic,” will also include Texas congressman and former White House physician Ronny Jackson, who previously suggested that the omicron variant was a hoax by Democrats.
McCarthy said that the Weaponization of the Federal Government subcommittee was needed because President Joe Biden’s administration and Democrats in Congress had established a “dangerous pattern of the government being used to target political opponents while they neglected their most basic responsibilities.”
The weaponization panel will be chaired by Representative Jim Jordan. Other Republican members include Representatives Darrel Issa, Elise Stefanik, Thomas Massie, Chip Roy and Harriet Hageman, who unseated Liz Cheney last year in Wyoming with the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.
Critics of McCarthy slammed the House speaker on Twitter for selecting Greene and Jackson to serve on the COVID-19 panel. His MAGA-heavy picks to the government weaponization subcommittee also received backlash, while the panel itself was deemed hypocritical by some.
“The ‘Weaponization’ of Government Committee (a truly laughable name) is poised to be the modern House of UnAmerican Activities committee—a body that creates rather than investigates conspiracy theories and which will eventually undermine itself,” Richard Stengel, former official of ex-President Barack Obama’s administration, tweeted.
“LAST WEEK: Marjorie Taylor Greene pushed deadly conspiracies about vaccines and claimed COVID was a plot to elect Biden,” tweeted Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson. “THIS WEEK: McCarthy appointed her to the Subcommittee on Coronavirus Pandemic. McCarthy Sold Out to MAGA.”
“Hypocrisy: A congressional committee whose ONLY purpose is to weaponize the government against their political enemies while ignoring the weaponization of the government by their political allies,” Twitter user @TruthJustis4USA replied to a McCarthy tweet announcing the picks. “Guaranteed you won’t go after 45 who weaponized the DOJ & IRS against his enemies”
“McCarthy put the QAnon enthusiast who spread pandemic misinformation on the Covid subcommittee and the guy who dodged a congressional subpoena and discussed pardons with Donald Trump in charge of their ‘deep state’ panel,” Democratic Congressman Don Beyer tweeted. “Whole subcommittees devoted to conspiracy theories. Ugh.”
“Kevin McCarthy just officially put COVID conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic,” tweeted the MeidasTouch account. “Greene was previously banned from Twitter for spreading COVID disinformation and continues to spread lies about the pandemic to this day.”
“Kevin McCarthy has just -kicked out Adam Schiff & Eric Swalwell from the Intel Committee -Appointed anti-vaxxer MTG to the select committee on Covid-Established an anti-FBI comm.filled with MAGA extremists-Said he still supports G. Santos,” the group Republicans Against Trumpism tweeted. “McCarthy is a national disgrace”
Meanwhile, a number of the Republicans whom McCarthy named to the subcommittees celebrated their appointments.
Greene tweeted that she was “honored” by the selection and vowed to “reveal the truth on the origins of COVID” and “the authoritarian Democrat response.”
Jackson said that the COVID-19 committee would be dedicated to exposing “lies” concerning vaccines and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the former longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and ex-adviser on the pandemic to both Trump and Biden.
Stefanik said in a statement that she was “proud” to be picked for the weaponization committee, promising to help “root out corruption in our government agencies,” arguing that “the corrupt DOJ and FBI [were] fully weaponized against the Biden Administration’s political opponents.”
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries also has the opportunity to nominate Democratic members to serve on both of the special subcommittees, although McCarthy could potentially shoot down his picks.
Newsweek has reached out to the office of McCarthy for comment.