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McCarthy Stands by Greene, House Dems Prepare to Bounce Her From Committees

February 4, 2021 by Dan McCue
McCarthy Stands by Greene, House Dems Prepare to Bounce Her From Committees
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., walks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON – House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., announced Wednesday evening that he will take no disciplinary actions against Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.,  even as House Democrats prepared for a Thursday vote to strip her of her committee assignments.

In a statement, McCarthy condemned Greene for past incendiary remarks, but in a closed-door meeting with members of his caucus on Wednesday, he said he’d take no steps to remove her from seats on the House Budget and Education and Labor Committees.

Greene, a QAnon conspiracy theorist, has been roundly criticized by both Republicans and Democrats for past remarks supporting the execution of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., questioning the details of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, and suggesting that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a hoax.

She even, reportedly, claimed that giant lasers in space, controlled by a Jewish family, were responsible for wildfires in McCarthy’s home state of California.

Earlier this week, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., dismissed these and any other statements attributed to Greene as “loony lies and conspiracy theories” and called them a “cancer for the Republican Party and our country.”

The controversy has become an unrelenting headache for McCarthy, who has been trying to position his party to take over the House after the midterm elections with himself as speaker.

In a bid to diffuse the issue, McCarthy met with Greene on Tuesday, and told her he too found her comments objectionable and said “past comments from and endorsed by Marjorie Taylor Greene on school shootings, political violence, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories do not represent the values or beliefs of the House Republican Conference.”

He said he also made clear “that as a member of Congress we have a responsibility to hold ourselves to a higher standard than how she presented herself as a private citizen. … “

He said he would “hold her to her word, as well as her actions going forward.” 

On Wednesday McCarthy released a statement in which he said he condemned Greene’s past comments on a variety of subjects “unequivocally.”

“I condemned them in the past. I continue to condemn them today. This House condemned QAnon last Congress and continues to do so today,” he said.

But that went nowhere near far enough or House Democrats, who moved a resolution, “Removing a Certain Member from Certain Standing Committees of the House of Representatives,” through the House Rules Committee Wednesday afternoon.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., also announced he’d rejected a deal proposed by McCarthy to remove Greene from the Education and Labor Committee, but allowing her to remain on the House Budget panel. 

Greene’s membership on the Education and Labor Committee has been a particular point of controversy given her past statements that suggested school shootings throughout the country were being staged to build a case for gun control.

“I spoke to Leader McCarthy this morning, and it is clear there is no alternative to holding a Floor vote on the resolution to remove Rep. Greene from her committee assignments,”  Hoyer said in a statement earlier in the day. 

Later, during a pen and pad session with reporters, Greene’s future dominated the conversation.

“With respect to Marjorie Taylor Greene, she came to Congress with a history of extraordinarily hostile rhetoric and hostile actions that she had taken prior to coming to Congress … and her action since coming to Congress have been consistent with [that history],” Hoyer said.

“She has placed many members in fear for their welfare … and she has attacked and made incendiary remarks prior to but also during her term in Congress with respect to the safety and welfare of the speaker of the House,” he said.

Hoyer went on to liken Greene’s conduct to that of former Iowa Rep. Steven King, who had a longh history of controversial statements that included racist language and comments on abortion and immigration.

McCarthy finally stripped King of his committee assignments after the Iowa Republican defended white supremacy in an interview with The New York Times. King was subsequently defeated in his GOP primary last year and is no longer in Congress.

“In many respects,” Hoyer said, “the language Greene used …. goes far beyond the remarks Steve King made through the years.”

Two years ago, Hoyer continued, “McCarthy … chose to remove [King] from all of his committee assignments to make it clear that his comments were not acceptable. We were hopeful Mr. McCarthy would do the same here. But that appears not to be the case.”

Later Hoyer said that in his 40 years in Congress he’s never seen a situation he believes is analogous to that of Rep. Greene and what she has said and done before and after being elected.

“I don’t think there is a precedent for this … but a fact pattern, an extraordinary fact pattern, does exist and apparently Miss Greene has no intention of modifying her behavior,” he said.

“I think the House needs to speak to that behavior … and to the fear she has put in others … and to suggestions she’s made, without any apology or retraction, as a member of Congress, threatening the lives of members of Congress, and in particular, the speaker of the House.”

The resolution that will come to the House floor on Thursday was sponsored by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.

It would remove Greene from two committee assignments for the remainder of the 117th Congress.

Hoyer wasn’t the only one disappointed in McCarthy’s lack of action on Greene.

“After several conversations and literally running away from reporters, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy made clear that he is refusing to take action against conspiracy theorist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene,” a statement from Pelosi’s office read.

“As a result, the House will continue with a vote to strip Greene of her seat on the esteemed House Committee on Education and Labor and House Committee on Budget. McCarthy’s failure to lead his party effectively hands the keys over to Greene – an anti-Semite, QAnon adherent and 9/11 Truther,” the statement said.

The statement went on to say McCarthy’s “cowardly refusal” to sanction Greene show’s he’s broken with Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, of Illinois,  the Republican Jewish Coalition and prominent members of his party to take action against Greene.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., the ranking member of the Rules Committee, tried to strike a middle ground Wednesday, suggesting the Ethics Committee rather than the full House, decide whether Greene should lose her committee assignments.

His concern focused on the appropriateness of the majority party in the House moving unilaterally to remove a member of the minority party from committees.

“The Ethics Committee should review the matter in question, determine if a new standard relating to actions taken by a member of Congress before they are elected should be covered by the code of conduct, and make the appropriate recommendations,” Cole said. “Doing anything different would risk sending the institution down a precarious path, the end of which we cannot predict.” 

Hoyer responded to Cole’s concerns during his session with reporters saying the Republicans — who stand to lose the most by being associated with a QAnon supporter — simply left the Democrats no choice.

“We are concerned about her being an embarrassment to the Congress of the United States, which provides for sanctioning members who have taken actions which diminish the House as an institution,” he said.

As for Greene, she remained unrepentant Wednesday, blasting the House Democratic leadership on Twitter.

“They are only set out to destroy Republicans, your jobs, our economy, your children’s education and lives, steal our freedoms, and erase God’s creation,” she wrote. “And the bloodthirsty media are their henchmen who help them by relentlessly attacking anyone in their path.” 

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