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House Democrats advance measure to strip Marjorie Taylor Greene from committees

House GOP uniting amid public rifts
Republican Party unites as public GOP rifts are highlighted 03:20

Washington — House Democrats are moving forward on a resolution to strip freshman GOP Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia of her committee assignments due to her embrace of conspiracy theories and apparent support for violence against Democrats before she was a member of Congress.

The House Rules Committee voted to advance the resolution on Wednesday, paving the way for a final vote in the full House on Thursday. The measure, put forth by Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, calls for Greene to be removed from the House Budget Committee and the Education and Labor Committee "in light of conduct she has exhibited."

House Democrats are moving forward with the vote in the full House after Republican leaders declined to exercise their own authority to remove Greene from the committees.

For her part, Greene addressed the GOP conference Wednesday evening to express remorse for her controversial positions and comments. She told Republican colleagues she believes school shootings are real and called them "awful," and apologized for her past support for QAnon conspiracy theories, according to two sources familiar with the meeting. 

Greene's private comments to her colleagues — who also have the power to strip her of her committee assignments — stand in stark contrast to her public comments, where she has refused to back away from her past statements in the face of criticism, and boasted about raising some $175,000 on Wednesday alone over efforts to punish her.

There was no indication that Greene's apparent change of heart would have any impact on House Democrats' move to remove her from the committees.

At a hearing on Wednesday, Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, acknowledged the decision to bring the matter to the House floor is unprecedented for two reasons: first, because Congress has "never had a member like this one before," and second, because "the full Congress has never had to take this step."

"When something like this has happened in the past, leadership on both sides always did the right thing," he said.

McGovern said Greene has a pattern of endorsing violence and has said "truly appalling things."

"The action that we are taking today isn't about partisanship. It is not about cancelling anybody with a different political belief," he said. "It is about accountability and about upholding the integrity and the decency of this institution. If this isn't the bottom line, I don't know where the hell the bottom line is."

But Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the panel, said the actions by Democrats raise questions that do not have to do with Greene and called the hearing "premature," as the matter should first be adjudicated by the House Ethics Committee. 

"I do worry a lot about the precedent of another party choosing to" remove members from committees, he said. Cole called Greene's comments "repugnant" and "unbecoming of any member of Congress."

Greene has been at the center of controversy since her first days in Congress, but Democrats have called for the Georgia congresswoman to be punished after it was recently revealed she peddled conspiracy theories about the 9/11 terror attacks and the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. CNN also uncovered social media activity in which Greene appeared to support comments that called for executing top Democrats, while Facebook videos uncovered last year show her making racist and anti-Semitic comments.

Greene's conduct prompted California Democrat Jimmy Gomez to introduce a resolution to expel Greene from the House, while other Democrats have pressured Republican leaders to hold her accountable for her actions.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy met with Greene on Tuesday, after which Republicans convened a last-minute meeting of the Steering Committee, which controls its members' committee assignments.

McCarthy and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer then met Wednesday to discuss a possible deal to avoid a House vote stripping Greene of her committee assignments, though those talks were unsuccessful.

Following his discussion with McCarthy, Hoyer said "it is clear there is no alternative to holding a Floor vote on the resolution to remove Rep. Greene from her committee assignments. The Rules Committee will meet this afternoon, and the House will vote on the resolution tomorrow."

In his own statement Wednesday afternoon, McCarthy said he condemns Greene's comments "unequivocally" but criticized Democrats for trying to remove Greene from committees, saying the resolution "continues to distract Congress" from its work.

"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 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."

The reluctance by House Republicans to take action against Greene stands in stark contrast to comments by some GOP senators, notably Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who lambasted Greene this week.

"Somebody who's suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.'s airplane is not living in reality," McConnell said in a statement. "This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party."

Greene, meanwhile, claims she has the support of former President Donald Trump, and is fundraising from the controversy.

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