WASHINGTON — Georgia U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene walked back some of her most controversial statements, saying she believes that 9/11 happened and that school shootings are real. But it wasn’t enough to stop the U.S. House from taking the unprecedented step of removing her from her congressional committees.
Greene, during a floor speech before the vote, stopped short of any apologies.
”These were words of the past,” Greene said. “These things do not represent me. They do not represent my district. And they do not represent my values.”
Democrats, along with 11 Republicans, voted to discipline the Rome lawmaker for those previous comments and troubling actions, which included confronting a teenage school shooting survivor, spreading baseless QAnon conspiracy theories, “liking” social media posts that called for the execution of House leaders and making statements that were racist, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic.
The 230-199 vote resulted in Greene being removed from two committees: the Education and Labor Committee and the Budget Committee.
In her speech, Greene said the media had taken her words out of context. She also accused Democrats of disciplining her while ignoring misdeeds on their side. But she also said that her past statements created a distorted picture of who she is.
U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, the Democratic chairman of the House Rules Committee, said Greene’s speech contradicted recent comments where she took a defiant tone and announced the criticism she faced had helped her raise hundreds of thousands of dollars from conservative supporters.
McGovern reviewed a timeline of Greene’s most problematic statements and said he was troubled that Republicans took no action against her.
“The party of Lincoln is becoming the party of violent conspiracy theories,” he said. “And apparently the leaders of the Republican Party in the House, today, are not going to do a damn thing about it.”
Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer brought a visual aid to the House floor, a poster-size rendering of a controversial social media post by Greene that was removed from Facebook, which said it violated its standards. In the photo, Greene is holding a rifle; in the caption she pledges to “go on the offense” against a group of Democratic members known as “The Squad.”
The post is from September, after Greene won her runoff against Republican John Cowan and it became clear she would win her congressional seat.
“She claimed that we are here today only because of some things she wrote online before she ever ran for Congress — as if one’s moral slate is wiped clean when one becomes a candidate for office,” Hoyer said. “Regardless, the conduct we are judging today continued to occur even after Rep. Greene became a candidate and even after she was elected.”
Republicans who debated against the resolution said they disagreed with Greene’s remarks but felt Democrats had no right to take the unprecedented step of dictating the other party’s committee assignments. Republicans also said it was unfair to punish Greene for remarks made prior to being elected to office.
U.S. Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton, the longest-serving Georgia Republican in the House, noted that he has criticized Greene in the past. Still, he said Democrats have overstepped boundaries and said it could empower them to take more action against GOP members they disagreed with.
“If this was about the remarks our colleague made, you would put a resolution on the floor condemning those remarks,” Scott said. “But no matter what those remarks are or how bad they are, she and every other member of this body should be entitled to due process just as every other American is entitled to due process.”
U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde of Athens, Georgia’s other freshman GOP lawmaker, did not criticize Greene in his remarks. He described the resolution as motivated solely by politics.
“It is about Democrats seizing upon an opportunity to further suppress the rights of the minority party to silence a bold member of the opposition and to thereby further their socialist agenda,” Clyde said. “Members of Congress have a duty to uphold themselves to the highest standards, and I know Marjorie is doing just that.”
The delegation voted along party lines with all eight GOP members opposed to the resolution and all six Democrats in favor. U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta, said in debate that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was an example of what can happen if members are allowed to spread baseless conspiracy theories unchecked.
U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, who lives in Marietta, became a gun control activist after her son was shot and killed. She was celebrating one of his posthumous birthdays when 17 people were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
McBath has said in the past that she decided to run for Congress as a direct result of her advocacy work with Parkland survivors. She said Thursday that Greene’s comments, particularly those directed toward Parkland and Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, were divisive and warranted her removal from the committees.
Greene once described these shootings as staged and said Parkland students who advocated for gun control were “crisis actors.” She videotaped a 2019 confrontation with one of the teenage victims, David Hogg.
“This, today, is about a member’s words and actions that are beneath this body, beneath the American people we have sworn to protect,” McBath said. “This is about a member stalking the children of tragedy, attacking survivors.”