As you might have heard, the House voted on Thursday to remove Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) from her committee assignments. House Republican leadership had put her on the Education and Labor and Budget Committee. Her appointment to these committees was passed in H.Res. 63, a routine resolution at the beginning of each Congress to fill out committee spots designated to the minority party.
Greene’s removal from these two committee assignments came after “likes” from Facebook posts in 2018 and 2019 suggested that she supported the execution of some Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and after an alleged altercation with Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO). Bush requested to move her office because of concerns for her safety.
Additionally, Greene had a history of racist comments and conspiracy theories, including the now-infamous QAnon conspiracy theory. Sure, House Republican leaders condemned her comments, but they still supported her and planned to give her an opportunity to be a responsible member of the House.
Before the House voted on the resolution to remove Greene from her committee assignments, H.Res. 72, Democrats gave House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) an opportunity to do remove Greene. After meeting with Greene, McCarthy offered to remove her from Education and Labor. Democrats decided to move forward with removing her from both.
Now, McCarthy’s logic is strange. Then-Rep. Steve King (R-IA) was removed from his committee assignments by the House Republican Steering Committee, which is controlled by McCarthy, after a January 2019 interview in which questioned why the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” became offensive. King served on the Agriculture, Judiciary, and Small Business committees prior to his removal. King’s comments were also condemned in H.Res. 41, although this wasn’t a censure. He was defeated by a primary challenger in the 2020 election cycle.
Back in December 2012, Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Walter Jones (R-NC), and David Schweikert (R-AZ) were removed from certain committee assignments for simply voting against House Republican leadership. The four members, who were among the most conservative in the House, weren’t booted from all of their committee assignments. Still, they were penalized for being, as Politico reported a Steering Committee member as saying, “‘the most egregious a—holes’ in the House Republican Conference.”
Of the four Republicans who lost their committee assignments, only Schweikert is still in the House. He now serves on the Ways and Means Committee, which is an “A” committee and, therefore, his only committee assignment. Amash was relegated to only the Oversight and Reform Committee before resigning from the House Republican Conference to become an independent in July 2019. He had no committee assignments after his resignation and didn’t seek reelection in 2020. Huelskamp was reelected in 2014 but lost to a primary challenger in 2016. Jones managed to continue winning reelection despite primary challenges until his death in February 2019.
Greene reportedly apologized to the House Republican Conference in a closed-door meeting on Wednesday. She also got a standing ovation from at least some members of the conference. This is also the same meeting in which the conference voted to keep Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) in the post of Chair of the House Republican Conference. Cheney is usually not a sympathetic character given her proclivity for war, but in this instance, some were seeking to remove her from her post largely because she voted to impeach President Donald Trump. That vote might have been the most principled and right vote of her career.
McCarthy was concerned about setting the precedent of punishing a member for actions and comments before she was elected to Congress. He argued that it was an abuse of power for a majority party to essentially veto a minority party’s committee assignments. He also accused Democrats of a double-standard, citing the failure to punish Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for her antisemitism, House Financial Service Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA) of encouraging confrontation with Trump administration officials, and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) for his alleged ties to a Chinese spy.
Ultimately, McCarthy did nothing. Because of his inaction, he forced his conference to take a vote that they shouldn’t have had to take. The precedent and process concerns are well taken. However, there has to be a line drawn somewhere. The hypocrisy of Democrats is the best argument that McCarthy and Republicans have, but few are paying attention to that argument, particularly after January 6. There isn’t much public sympathy for someone like Greene, nor should there be.
When she spoke from the House floor, Greene did express “regret.” She said, “[I]f it weren’t for the Facebook posts and comments that I liked in 2018, I wouldn’t be standing here today and you couldn’t point a finger and accuse me of anything wrong.”
Expressing “regret” isn’t an apology. Greene didn’t apologize. In fact, she’s reveling in losing her committee assignments. The day after the vote, Greene tweeted, “I woke up early this morning literally laughing thinking about what a bunch of morons the Democrats (+11) are for giving some one [sic] like me free time…Oh this is going to be fun!” (The “+11” refers to the Republicans who voted to remove Greene from her committee assignments.)
At a press conference, Greene also said, “[F]ree speech matters…and they stripped my district of their voice.” Eh, not really. Greene has no committee assignments now, so she won’t be able to take part in the legislative process at the committee level, but she can still offer amendments to legislation (whether those amendments are allowed by the Rules Committee is an entirely different story) and speak on the floor. She still has a vote in the House.
Also, let’s just get something straight. The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” The right to free speech doesn’t mean, in any way, that there aren’t repercussions for protected speech. People, particularly today’s ultra-right populists, appear to not realize that. Although the lengths to which those who promote “cancel culture” go is a serious concern, there are some who deserve to be canceled.
Ultimately, Greene has done a disservice to her district. She has done this to herself. She’s the worst possible voice for the causes in which she claims to believe. She doesn’t realize that, nor does she seem to have any respect for the gravity of the situation and its implications.
Democrats don’t like her, but that doesn’t mean she’s not useful. In the first season of The West Wing, a political consultant, Joey Lucas, tries to convince Josh Lyman to support a Democratic opponent to a conservative Republican. Josh shoots her down. He says, “Joey, every time he comes out with one of his declarations about brown people crossing the border, the DNC slaps it into a direct mail campaign, and he’s good for two or three million dollars.”
This is what Marjorie Taylor Greene is for Democrats; a fundraising machine for the Democratic Party. Sure, she might brag about raising money, but turnabout is fair play, and Greene doesn’t seem to realize that Democrats are using her to raise money ahead of the 2022 midterm election.