House lawmakers voted Thursday to table a resolution introduced by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy that aimed to remove Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence over his past ties to an alleged Chinese spy named Fang Fang.
The vote to reject the resolution calling for Swalwell's removal was 218-200 along party lines. All House Democrats voted to table the measure, while three Republicans cast "present" votes. The move by Democratic leadership to set aside the resolution allowed members to avoid an up-or-down vote on whether to remove Swalwell from the committee.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said McCarty’s push to remove Swalwell from the committee was a "frivolous, political exercise" and a bid to "distract from House Republican’s failure to hold their own members accountable for inappropriate and outrageous actions."
"Our House Democratic Majority has been steadfast in opposing malign actions by China," Hoyer said in a statement. "Spurious attempts, like this one today, by Republicans to obscure that fact will not change it. Americans are tired of hyper-partisanship and ‘gotcha’ gimmickry. Instead, let’s work together, in a bipartisan way, to achieve results for the people."
The two-page resolution said Swalwell, D-Calif., "has not denied public reporting that a suspected Chinese intelligence operative helped raise money for Representative Swalwell's political campaigns" and pointed to "other troublesome elements of public reporting."
The ties to Fang were first revealed by Axios, which reported that Fang helped raise money for Swalwell's campaign and placed one or more interns in Swalwell's office. Republicans have said that somebody who was so egregiously compromised by a foreign power should not remain on the critical intelligence panel.
The McCarthy, R-Calif., resolution also cited the House rule that "A Member... of the House shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House."
Swalwell was not accused of any wrongdoing and cooperated with the FBI when he was informed that Fang was a spy. But he has repeatedly refused to answer questions from Fox News about whether his relationship with Fang was romantic or sexual in nature.
The Democrat tweeted in response to McCarthy's resolution on Thursday, accusing the GOP leader of "the New McCarthyism."
"Meet the New McCarthyism. Multiple sentences in resolution state 'Swalwell has not denied...,'" Swalwell tweeted. "Yet fails to include multiple FBI statements of 'no wrongdoing' and did nothing but 'cooperate.' All of this to deflect from @GOPLeader’s support for QAnon."
Swalwell's office also referred Fox News to a statement the congressman made last week on his role on the intel panel.
"I'm eager to continue the important work of protecting Americans and supporting the hard-working heroes of our Intelligence Community, and I thank Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Schiff for their support and confidence," Swalwell said.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., defended Swalwell in a letter to colleagues on Thursday. "I have full confidence in Congressman Swalwell’s fitness to continue to serve as an exemplary member of the Intelligence Committee with all of the trust that entails. I will oppose this transparently political effort," he said.
Fang, Axios reported, had sexual or romantic relationships with multiple elected officials, including at least two Midwestern mayors.
But Swalwell still has widespread support among Democrats. He was named one of the House impeachment managers for the second Senate trial of former President Donald Trump and recently reappointed to the intel panel by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
McCarthy had signaled last week that he would introduce a resolution to remove Swalwell from the Intelligence Committee.
"Pelosi just reappointed Eric Swalwell to the Intelligence Committee. Based on the briefing she and I received together, Swalwell should not be on the panel in charge of guarding our nation's secrets," McCarthy said in a tweet.
Fox News' Mike Emanuel and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.