Democrats Head Into Showdown With GOP Over Punishing Greene
(Bloomberg) -- House Democrats are heading into a showdown with Republicans Thursday over GOP Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s past promotion of conspiracies that threatens to provoke an escalating cycle of political retaliation.
The conflict over Greene is one of two that had been festering for House Republicans and reflect tension in the party over its future direction and former President Donald Trump’s continued influence even after he was voted out of office.
GOP lawmakers Wednesday night decided to stand with both Trump loyalists and the old-line establishment. They rejected pressure from Democrats to take steps on their own to punish Greene, who has aligned herself closely with the former president, and voted to keep Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming as one of their leaders despite scathing criticism over her vote to impeach Trump after a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“It was a very resounding acknowledgment that we need to go forward together,” Cheney, 54, told reporters after a more than four-hour meeting of House Republicans where she and Greene were the main topics. She did not apologize for the impeachment vote, according to other lawmakers in the room.
Democrats are continuing the battle over Greene. Earlier Wednesday, they set up a vote on the House floor to remove her from the two committees she was assigned by GOP leadership, Education and Labor and Budget.
Greene has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory. She’s also questioned whether a plane actually hit the Pentagon in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and whether some mass shootings in the U.S. were staged or carried out for political purposes. She also introduced articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden the day after he was inaugurated.
“It is about what she said,” House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern said, arguing that the resolution to strip her of her committee seats it is not about partisan politics. He said Greene’s actions and words “quite frankly diminishes not only her office, but this entire institution.”
Greene, 46, has come under harsh criticism from some fellow Republicans, including Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, who said “loony lies and conspiracy theories” are a “cancer” for the party and the country.
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said he unsuccessfully offered to reassign Greene, who represents a district in northwest Georgia, to the Small Business Committee rather than the Education and Labor Committee.
“I made that offer to the Democrats and they they chose to do something Congress has never done,” he said.
GOP lawmakers said Greene, during their private gathering, had disavowed QAnon and back-tracked on her past statements and social media posts.
“She was contrite. I think she brought a lot of people over to her side,” Representative Tom Massie of Kentucky said of Greene’s remarks to the conference.
Massie was one of the Republicans who warned Democrats that forcing members of the minority party off of committees would have consequences.
“This is a rabbit hole, this is a Pandora’s box they do not want to open,” he said.
Texas Representative Louie Gohmert warned that if Democrats removed Greene, the GOP “absolutely 100 percent” would do the same to them if the GOP regains control of the House. “They’ll start a war that they won’t like where it goes,” he said.
While Republicans managed to tamp down their differences and stand behind both Cheney and Greene, the divisions haven’t gone away. The fact that nearly a third of the conference voted against Cheney underscores the deep split in the party between those who remain fiercely loyal to Trump and those who want to move past the former president and his false claims about the November election.
Joshua Huder, a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s governmental affairs institute, said one remaining area of agreement between the Trump allies and GOP establishment figures is their opposition to Democratic policies.
“Outside of that, it lacks direction and leadership,” Huder said. “More and more, it looks like a party not in control of its future.”
Ross Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University, said the conflict is an extension of the internal GOP fights that have been roiling since the advent of the Tea Party through the election of Trump.
“This moment of reckoning for the Republicans is overdue,” he said.
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