GOP members say the panel’s virtual sessions are insecure. Democrats accuse Republicans of a partisan snit.
Democrats see a boycott motivated by partisan politics. Republicans argue they have legitimate security concerns.
Either way, GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee have skipped all but one of the panel’s proceedings, public and private, since before Congress went into its coronavirus-lockdown in early March. And that impasse shows no signs of ending, even as the panel takes up issues like China, Covid-19 and the annual intelligence policy bill.
Democrats see it as yet another manifestation of the toxic partisan split dividing the panel during Donald Trump’s presidency, in contrast to the still-bipartisan spirit that prevails on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“It seems almost counterproductive on their part,” House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told POLITICO when asked about the Republican no-shows. “It seems rather childish but I hope that they will reconsider.”
The committee, with 13 Democratic and eight Republican members, has held at least seven bipartisan hearings and roundtables, both open- and closed-door, since the pandemic shut down much of Washington in March and April. The sessions, all unclassified, included a virtual hearing in mid-June where representatives of Facebook, Twitter and Google answered questions about foreign efforts to subvert the 2020 presidential election.
The lone session to have a GOP presence was an April 28 roundtable attended by then-Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas, a week before the Senate hearing on his nomination to be Trump’s director of national intelligence.
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