GOP’s Greene Ousted From Panels for Touting Conspiracy Theories
(Bloomberg) -- The House voted Thursday to strip Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene from her two committee seats for embracing conspiracy theories and violence against Democrats, dividing her own party as it tries to move past Donald Trump’s presidency.
With the 230-199 vote, the House will remove Greene from the committees responsible for education and the budget. Eleven Republicans voted with all Democrats in favor of the resolution.
Democratic leaders said Greene’s suggestions of violence and approval of social media threats against elected Democrats crossed a line.
“Tell me what message you think it sends,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer asked before the vote, referring to a doctored image Greene posted on Facebook of herself holding a rifle with photos of progressive congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib.
After the vote, a statement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office said the GOP representatives had “made it abundantly clear where their allegiances lie: with Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, conspiracy theorists and QAnon believers. “
Though few Republicans defended Greene’s words, some who voted against the resolution said it sets a bad precedent for the majority to interfere with the opposing party’s committee assignments.
Greene, whom Trump had declared “a future Republican star,” spoke on the House floor earlier Thursday to plead her case, saying she has disavowed many of her previous bizarre beliefs, including raising questions about mass school shootings and the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the U.S. But she didn’t directly apologize, and Democrats were unconvinced.
Drawing a Line
House Rules Chair Jim McGovern said he didn’t hear any actual apologies for “past comments and posts.” CNN reported that in one 2019 post, Greene “liked” a Facebook comment that said “a bullet to the head would be quicker” to remove Pelosi.
“Anyone who suggests putting a bullet in the head of a member, shouldn’t serve on any committee, period,” McGovern said. He added that “a line had to be drawn,“ and expressed surprise that Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy didn’t take unilateral action to remove Greene from her committees.
Before the vote McCarthy told Democrats to “stop trying to invent dangerous and divisive ways to abuse the power of a majority.”
“Let me be very clear, Representative Greene’s past comments and posts as a private citizen do not represent the values of my party,“ McCarthy said. “As a Republican, as a conservative, as an American, I condemn those views unequivocally.”
But McCarthy took issue with what he called “a new standard” for the majority party to remove a minority member from committees. “You’ll regret this and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think,” he warned the chamber’s Democrats.
Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger, who has become an outspoken Trump critic, especially regarding lies about the November election, was among the Republicans who voted with Democrats to strip Greene of her committee posts. Asked if he found her floor speech convincing or credible, he said, “No, not necessarily.”
New York Representative John Katko was one of the other Republicans who voted for the resolution. He said he’s not worried about repercussions from GOP leadership for voting with Democrats.
“I looked at the facts and I looked at the vote and I did what I thought was right,” Katko said afterward.
Republican Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington State, tweeted that Greene “has espoused and amplified views that are not just objectionable, but insane.” But she voted against the resolution and said she wouldn’t “set a new precedent where the majority party now dictates to the minority.”
Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Rules Committee, couched his opposition to the resolution in the details of House procedure and precedent, pointing out that the grievances against Greene were not first referred to the ethics panel.
Cole also said while he found some of Greene’s comments offensive, he opposed the Democratic measure because the House majority party has not traditionally exercised “a veto” of the minority’s assignments to committees. He warned that doing this now to Greene would unleash a pattern of “score settling,” of minority members singled out for committee removal every time the majority flips.
But Pelosi told reporters that she would’ve have kicked a Democrat off of committees for doing things Greene has done.
In 2019, GOP leaders did remove former Representative Steve King of Iowa from the Agriculture and Judiciary Committees after he publicly questioned when the phrase “white supremacist” became offensive, in a New York Times article. He later lost a Republican primary.
Senate Republicans offered harsh criticism of Greene’s past positions. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said “loony lies and conspiracy theories” are a “cancer” for the party and the country, although he didn’t mention Greene by name.
McCarthy said Wednesday that he spoke privately with Greene and took her at her word that she understands the consequences of her actions now that she’s an elected member of Congress.
In Trump’s Shadow
McCarthy’s decision to stick by Greene, who aligned herself closely with Trump, comes at a time where he and his party are struggling to find direction after losing the White House. The former president has vowed to remain active in Republican politics and hinted at a possible 2024 run for the presidency.
McCarthy visited Trump in Florida last week to talk about supporting House candidates in 2022.
The Senate is about to begin Trump’s second impeachment trial, which is likely to end in acquittal.
In another intra-party conflict this week, McCarthy stood by Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, who faced calls for her removal as the Republican conference chair because she had voted with Democrats to impeach Trump. Cheney survived a secret-ballot vote Wednesday attempting to oust her.
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