Multiple Republicans came to the defense of Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene after the Democrat-led House of Representatives voted Thursday to strip of her two committee seats for past statements she has made.
Greene took to the House floor before the vote to say she does not currently hold the kinds of conspiratorial views that got her in trouble in the first place and never made any statements about the conspiracy theory QAnon during the 2020 campaign.
Still, the House voted 230-199, with only 11 Republicans joining Democrats in what was otherwise a party-line vote to remove Greene from the committees responsible for education and the budget.
Democrat leaders said Greene’s suggestions of violence and approval of social media threats against elected Democrats crossed a line. She has also been criticized for denying the reality of mass shootings at Connecticut and Florida schools and asserting that 9/11’s terror attacks were an inside job.
“Tell me what message you think that 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.
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 President Donald Trump once anointed a “future Republican star,” spoke on the House floor earlier Thursday to plead her case, saying she has disavowed many of her previously expressed beliefs about such things as 9/11 and school shootings.
Before the vote, ranking House Republican Kevin McCarthy told Democrats to “stop trying to invent dangerous and divisive ways to reabuse 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” allowing 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.
Past Statements by Democrats
Greene is not the first member of the House to make inflammatory statements. Several Democrat members over the years have made statements that have seemed ripe for punishment, yet they escaped largely unscathed.
Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., in 2014, said the conservative Tea Party movement comprised “mean, racist people.”
“Now why do I say that?” he asked. “Because in those red states, they’re the same slave-holding states. They had the Confederate flag. They became Dixiecrats; they had the Confederate flag. They’re now the Tea Party; they still got the Confederate [flag]. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.”
Rangel was once censured after being found guilty of 11 ethics violations, but not in connection with his words against Tea Party supporters.
Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., compared the Republican Party to the Ku Klux Klan in a fundraising letter, that featured a burning cross. The Washington Examiner noted the irony that the Democrats had elected Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., who actually was a former member of the Klan, to the House and then Senate for nearly five decades.
Grayson was let off with an apology.
Even President Joe Biden has his moments. In 2006 the then-senator from Delaware said to an Indian American man in a Delaware convenience store: “In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian-Americans moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”
Later, as Biden was set to announce his 2008 presidential bid, he told the New York Observer of Barack Obama: “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”
He apologized to Obama, and ended up serving for eight years as his vice president.
Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who has become an outspoken Trump critic, especially regarding claims of election fraud 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 Rep. 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 Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington State tweeted that Greene “has espoused and amplified views that are not just objectionable, but insane.”
Still, she voted against the resolution and said she wouldn’t “set a new precedent where the majority party dicates to the minority.”
Fellow Rep. 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 Democrats’ 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 would unleash a pattern of “score settling,” and 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 a committee for the kinds of statements associated with Greene.
In 2019, GOP leaders did remove Rep. 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’d spoken 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.
Bloomberg News and Newsmax staff contributed to this story.
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