Democrats move to strip Marjorie Taylor Greene of committees after GOP inaction

House Rules Committee votes to advance resolution to Thursday floor vote
200829-Rome-Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican running to represent Georgia’s 14th congressional district, talks with supporters Saturday morning August 29, 2020 at a political rally at the Rome fairgrounds. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

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200829-Rome-Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican running to represent Georgia’s 14th congressional district, talks with supporters Saturday morning August 29, 2020 at a political rally at the Rome fairgrounds. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

WASHINGTON — U.S. House Democrats will vote Thursday to strip Georgia U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments.

The House Rules Committee voted Wednesday to advance a resolution that would greatly limit Greene’s ability to take an active role in legislating. Democrats said the Republican from Rome doesn’t deserve to be an active participant in Congress after refusing to apologize or retract racist comments and baseless conspiracy theories that she has spread about mass shootings.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, who chairs the committee, said Democrats were left with no choice after Republican leaders refused to take action.

“This is about who we are,” he said. “This is about this institution; this is about decency.”

Greene did not speak at the committee meeting, which was held virtually. But during a closed-door meeting of House Republicans afterward, she expressed remorse about some of her past comments that ignited controversy, according to reporters from CNN and The Washington Examiner.

The congresswoman took a more defiant tone in an interview with the Examiner that apparently took place before the Rules Committee met. She said the controversy was only strengthening her support among conservative Republicans.

“How stupid they are,” she said of the Democrats on the committee, according to the paper. “They don’t even realize they’re helping me. I’m pretty amazed at how dumb they are.”

She also criticized House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans who questioned her actions, saying they don’t represent conservative values.

“I think Republicans need to get back to who they are, and they need to stop talking and actually doing,” Greene told the Examiner. “And Kevin McCarthy and all these leaders, the leadership, and everyone is proving that they are all talk and not about action, and they’re just all about doing business as usual in Washington. And so, what’s the difference between them and the Democrats? There isn’t a difference.”

The furor over Greene grew last month as headlines focused on her past confrontation with a teenage victim of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting and her spreading of false conspiracy theories about the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Greene’s critics were particularly enraged that those comments came to light at the same time as her appointment to the House Education and Labor Committee, which deals with legislation regarding school safety and security.

The resolution stripping her membership in that panel and the House Budget Committee advanced to the floor by a voice vote. Republicans were opposed, saying it sets bad precedent to allow the party in power to force the minority party’s hand on committee assignments. Several GOP members said they disagree with Greene’s statements but did not agree with Democrats’ proposal.

“I think these comments are indefensible,” U.S. Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma said. “I just think there is a different and better way to proceed here.”

McCarthy and Greene met Tuesday night. Afterward, McCarthy called an emergency meeting of the Republican steering committee that decides which committees each member will serve on.

When nothing happened as a result, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he decided to move forward on the resolution. A floor vote is set for Thursday.

“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.

McCarthy said in a statement that he made it clear during his meeting with Greene that her comments were offensive and she would be held to a higher standard as a member of Congress. He later told reporters he offered Hoyer an alternative to the resolution — moving Greene off the education panel and onto the House Small Business Committee — but Democrats would not agree.

“I understand that Marjorie’s comments have caused deep wounds to many and as a result, I offered Majority Leader Hoyer a path to lower the temperature and address these concerns,” McCarthy’s statement said. “Instead of coming together to do that, the Democrats are choosing to raise the temperature by taking the unprecedented step to further their partisan power grab regarding the committee assignments of the other party.”

Because Democrats are in the majority, they can push their resolution through without Republicans’ support, although it would be unusual for one party to dictate committee assignments for the other.

Although many Republicans are upset that Democrats are trying to force their hand, they also know that a floor vote could be a problem for them. They don’t want to cast a vote interpreted as defending Greene and her past statements that include spreading baseless QAnon conspiracy theories and insulting African Americans, immigrants, Muslims and Jewish people.

On the other hand, Republicans are also hesitant to weigh in on Greene too forcefully because she has the support of former President Donald Trump and a growing, vocal base of conservatives.

During the closed-door meeting of House Republicans, which lasted more than four hours, Greene was not the only controversy on the agenda. Most of the discussion focused on Wyoming U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, who upset many colleagues by voting with Democrats to impeach Trump a second time.

Cheney’s critics forced a vote, held by secret ballot, on whether to strip her of the No. 3 leadership position. It failed 154-61.

Afterward, Cheney and McCarthy addressed the media together. They said that despite the internal squabbles on display Wednesday the House GOP is unified and ready to move forward.

As the party leaders spoke, Greene bypassed the media scrum largely undetected. She again refused to answer questions.

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