WASHINGTON – Rep. Dan Crenshaw, one of the House GOP’s most prominent figures, was denied the chairmanship of the chamber’s Homeland Security Committee Monday in favor of a member of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus — days after Crenshaw called opponents of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy “terrorists.”
Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), will instead lead the panel that provides oversight over the Department of Homeland Security – and handles issues related to illegal immigration and terrorism.
Crenshaw raised the ire of his colleagues during the prolonged floor fight for speaker last week when he raged against a group of around 20 Freedom Caucus members who withheld their votes from McCarthy until they could extract concessions on the way the 118th Congress was run.
“They are enemies now,” Crenshaw told CNN of the holdouts following a heated closed-door GOP conference meeting Tuesday. “They have made it clear that they prefer a Democrat agenda than a Republican one.”
The same day, Crenshaw told Fox News Radio host Guy Benson of the rebels: “We cannot let the terrorists win.”
“They demand more places on committees,” Crenshaw told Benson. “So McCarthy says, ‘OK, give me a list of names.’ And then they refuse. And then they say, ‘Oh, you’re trying to trick us.’ You know? I mean, it’s like playing with children. I mean, it’s very difficult to understand what it is they want.”
Crenshaw, 38, walked back his comments in an interview with CNN Sunday, saying he was “a little taken aback” by the backlash.
“Obviously, to people who took offense by that, it’s pretty obvious that it’s meant as a turn of phrase,” the lawmaker told “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper. “To the extent that I have colleagues that were offended by it, I sincerely apologize to them. I don’t want them to think I actually believe they’re terrorists. It’s clearly a turn of phrase that you use in what is an intransigent negotiation.”
Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL who lost his right eye in Afghanistan in 2012, has been a familiar face on cable news. He rose to fame while campaigning for his seat in 2018 when comedian Pete Davidson mocked him as looking like “a hitman in a porno movie” on “Saturday Night Live.”
The Texan made his case to lead the Homeland Security Committee before the House Republican steering committee, which decides panel leadership. One prominent Freedom Caucus member, Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), secured his place on the committee during the grueling negotiations with McCarthy last week.
Green, 58, is expected to push for tough measures to combat the migration crisis. He promised to have the committee hire at least one staff member permanently stationed at the southern border to work with US Customs and Border Protection and related agencies.
Noting that Crenshaw “ran a spirited race,” Green tweeted Monday that he looked “forward to working with [Crenshaw], a fellow veteran who understands our national security challenges, to secure our homeland.”
“For the sake of our national security and homeland security, ending the border crisis President Biden created is our top priority,” Green said. “I’m grateful to @SpeakerMcCarthy and the House Republican Steering Committee for entrusting me with this task; it’s time to get to work and fulfill our Commitment to America!”
Meanwhile, another McCarthy loyalist, Mike Rogers of Alabama, pledged Monday morning to step down from the steering committee after having to be physically restrained on the House floor Friday night during a rowdy exchange with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), one of the leaders of the so-called “Never Kevins.”
However, Rogers reversed course Monday afternoon, telling Politico that he would remain on the committee at the behest of “an overwhelming number of members, both rank & file and leadership.”
Gaetz made nice with Rogers, tweeting Sunday that the two men “have a six-year productive, working relationship. We’re going to work together wonderfully going forward. I don’t think there should be any punishment or reprisal just because he had an animated moment. He has my forgiveness.”
“[email protected] and I have a long and productive working relationship, that I am sure will continue,” Rogers responded. “I regret that I briefly lost my temper on the House Floor Friday evening and appreciate Matt’s kind understanding.”