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Washington Watch: The Republican House sets up a committee on ‘the weaponization of the federal government’ and a crypto panel — but terminates others

Republican lawmakers have established new committees now that they have control of the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in four years.

At the same time, some committees set up by Democrats when they ran the chamber are history, or they’re getting revamped.

Below are some key committees that are launching, along with panels that are going away or changing.

The House on Tuesday voted 365-65 in favor of establishing the new committee aimed at China and voted 221-211 for the panel on the “weaponization of the federal government.” Each is set to have GOP and Democratic members.

New committees

Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party: This new panel is expected to focus on issues such as reducing economic dependence on China
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theft of intellectual property, human-rights violations and Chinese aggression toward Taiwan. Analysts have emphasized that there is bipartisan interest in finding ways to maintain a tough posture toward China.

Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government: This new panel is tasked with probing how the Department of Justice and other agencies “collect information on or otherwise investigate American citizens,” including how the agencies work with the private sector and whether civil liberties have been violated, according to legislative text. It’s likely to investigate communications between Big Tech
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and the Biden administration, according to multiple published reports. Democratic critics have said the subcommittee could “inject extremist politics into our justice system” and dubbed it “the MAGA Grievance Subcommittee.”

Subcommittee on Digital Assets, Financial Technology and Inclusion for the House Financial Services Committee: This new subcommittee is tasked with “providing clear rules of the road among federal regulators for the digital asset ecosystem,” along with developing policies that promote fintech to reach underserved communities. It’s getting set up as the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX has brought fresh scrutiny for the crypto
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industry — and led lawmakers to give back money that they received from FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried.

Committees that are ending

Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol: The House panel that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol wrapped up its work last month by voting unanimously to recommend criminal charges against former President Donald Trump to the Justice Department.

Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress: This panel has focused on how to knock Congress itself back into shape, but it’s not expected to operate in 2023.

Select Committee on the Climate Crisis: This panel isn’t expected to stay in business in the new year, after holding hearings on topics such as the healthcare risks linked to climate change. It also hosted prominent Swedish activist Greta Thunberg at a joint hearing.

Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth: Lawmakers on this panel released a first-of-its-kind documentary film narrated by “Sex and the City” star Sarah Jessica Parker as they completed their work last month.

A Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion for the House Financial Services Committee has been scrapped, but every subpanel for that committee has been tasked with identifying best practices and policies that strengthen diversity and inclusion.

Committees facing changes

Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic: This panel is basically a continuation of an existing committee, but a Republican rules package approved on Tuesday has given it new areas of focus, such as COVID-19’s origins, the impact of school closures on American children and the implementation of vaccine mandates for the military and federal government employees.

House Ethics Committee: The rules package approved on Tuesday will allow this panel to take complaints directly from the public but also will impose changes on the Office of Congressional Ethics that could limit the OCE’s ability to investigate lawmakers, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Twenty-five watchdog groups criticized the changes affecting the OCE in a letter, saying: “Together these changes weaken OCE to the point where the office would struggle to perform its core function, dismantling one of the only ways members of Congress are held accountable for ethics violations.”

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