WASHINGTON — House Democrats are forging ahead with a resolution to remove Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from serving on two committees amid a growing outcry over the Georgia Republican’s history of violent, racist comments and conspiracy theories.
The full House is set to vote Thursday to remove Greene from the House Education and Labor Committee, and the Budget Committee.
The vote is unusual, and a step that Democrats argue has not been used in recent instances of offensive conduct by a legislator because party leaders took action in those cases to remove a lawmaker from committee posts.
The action also reflects how Democrats will be framing Republicans heading into next year’s elections: that they are the party of QAnon conspiracy theories like those espoused by Greene.
Democrats have denounced the conservative legislator for comments and social-media posts made before she was elected to Congress in November. Greene endorsed conspiracy theories alleging that the deadly mass school shootings in Parkland, Fla., and Sandy Hook, Conn., were staged. In another post, Greene called Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg “#littleHitler.”
She also has encouraged violence against members of Congress, including liking a comment about putting a bullet in the head of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“If this is not the bottom, I don’t know what the hell is,” Rep. Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the House Rules Committee, said Wednesday as that panel advanced the resolution for a floor vote.
Greene, who declined to answer questions in the Capitol hallways Wednesday, has refused to apologize for her past comments. Instead, she’s touted the campaign dollars she has raised amid the controversy, and vowed to use this process as a precedent “once we regain the majority.”
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has held back so far from taking action against Greene in response to the outrage from Democrats, even as the top Senate Republican — Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — described the “looney lies” she promotes as “a cancer” on the Republican Party.
McCarthy met with Greene Tuesday evening, seeking to convince her to apologize or voluntarily step down from her committee posts, and later the leader met with the group of Republicans who approve committee changes, according to Politico.
McCarthy and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) spoke Wednesday morning, and afterward, Hoyer said in a statement that “it is clear there is no alternative to holding a floor vote on the resolution to remove Rep. Greene from her committee assignments.”
In a statement after the Rules Committee vote, McCarthy said he condemned Greene’s comments, and said they discussed how “her past comments now have much greater meaning” since becoming a member of Congress.
McCarthy again declined to take any other actions, and he decried Democrats for “the unprecedented step to further their partisan power grab regarding the committee assignments of the other party.”
During Wednesday’s Rules debate, Republicans on the panel said they were not defending Greene’s comments, but instead were arguing that the matter should be handled through the House Ethics panel.
“I do think these remarks are extraordinarily disturbing and that they are worthy of being considered,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the ranking Republican on the Rules Committee. “And all I’m saying is, I would like some process to do that.”
They also questioned the precedent of punishing lawmakers for comments made before they were elected. Former Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) was stripped of his committee seats by House GOP leadership in 2019, after he gave an interview to the New York Times in which he questioned why white nationalism was considered offensive and racist.
“If the precedent is going to be that if somebody advocates putting a bullet in the head of a member … if that is going to be the new determination as to what it takes to throw people off of committees, I’m fine with that,” McGovern said.
Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat whose Florida district includes Parkland, said during the hearing that Greene’s comments not only have caused repeated pain to the families of those killed in school shootings, but also represent the types of conspiracy theories that are “among the most serious threats to American security.”
In retaliation for the resolution against Greene, a group of Republicans unsuccessfully sought to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from her House committee assignments, accusing her of also making anti-Semitic comments.
Omar drew scrutiny during her first year in office over remarks critical of Israel and U.S. supporters of Israel. Omar later apologized for her remarks, and in a statement Wednesday, she accused Republicans of “whitewashing the actions of the violent conspiracy theorists.”