Updated: February 5, 2021 12:48:21 pm
The US House of Representatives is set to vote on whether to strip firebrand Republican lawmaker Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments, after several of her past social media posts and comments sparked a furore within the Democratic Party. This comes after top Republican leader Kevin McCarthy condemned her controversial remarks, but failed to take action against her.
Before she won a US House seat representing Northwest Georgia last year, she was known to have made a number of racist, anti-semitic and anti-Muslim statements on social media. She notably courted controversy for supporting a host of conspiracy theories, including the since-debunked QAnon theory.
In recent weeks, several old comments resurfaced where the Georgia Republican claimed school shootings were staged and even liked posts that called for the execution of top Democratic leaders, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Lawmakers on either side of the aisle have slammed Greene for her comments, and several Democrats have demanded her resignation.
But on Wednesday, McCarthy declined to take action against her — a decision that has angered both House Democrats as well as a growing number of Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. In a lengthy statement, McCarthy condemned her past comments but accused the Democratic Party of trying to carry out a “partisan power grab” by pushing for Greene’s resignation so vehemently.
Who is Marjorie Taylor Greene?
Greene co-owns a commercial construction and renovation company with her husband in Georgia. In November last year, she won a US House seat from Georgia’s 14th congressional district, where she ran unopposed after her Democratic opponent Kevin Van Ausdal dropped out of the race in September.
Greene is no stranger to controversy. Over the last few months, she has been widely criticised for some troubling social media posts and statements that have recently resurfaced. She has publicly endorsed the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory and has even repeatedly expressed racist views in public.
Despite this, she was a favourite of former President Donald Trump who praised her and once even called her a “future republican star. Trump himself has repeatedly refused to denounce the since-debunked QAnon theory, which suggests that the former President is secretly fighting a highly-placed child sex-trafficking ring.
But after she was criticised by several Republican leaders for elevating the warped theory during her primary race against fellow Republican candidate and neurosurgeon John Cowan, Greene distanced herself from QAnon conspiracy, without explicitly denouncing it.
In January, the political newcomer was once again in the spotlight when she introduced a measure attempting to impeach US President Joe Biden, accusing him of abuse of power and corruption. Late last month, another set of old social media posts surfaced, prompting the Democratic Party to file a resolution to strip her of her committee assignments.
Why are Greene’s social media posts causing outrage?
In January, Greene took down dozens of Facebook posts dating back to 2018 and 2019, where she publicly endorsed a number of fringe conspiracy theories and showed her support for executing Democrats, CNN reported.
She has been slammed for claiming that mass shootings are “false flags” used to justify gun control. In one video shared on social media, she is seen harassing David Hogg, a survivor of a school shooting who now advocates for gun control. In another video shared in 2017, just days after a gunman shot and killed 58 people at a music festival in Las Vegas, she suggested that the incident was staged by gun control activists to promote their agenda.
She has also previously claimed that the 2018 wildfires in California were started by “Jewish space lasers”.
A CNN review of Greene’s activity on Facebook found that apart from filling her feed with extremist content and conspiracy theories, she also indicated her support for executing prominent Democrats. In January, 2019, Greene liked a comment on her post that advocated “a bullet to the head” of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
On Monday this week, a group of House Democrats introduced a resolution to remove Greene from her committee assignments in the House Education & Labor Committee and the House Budget Committee. Her appointment to the Education & Labour Committee caused tremendous friction between Republicans and Democrats, with the latter questioning how she could possibly be placed in the panel given her history of troubling posts and statements, particularly about school shootings.
Thank you to the 13,000 America First Patriots who have sent a message to the radical Democrat mob in the last 48 hours by donating to defend my seat in Congress.
The People have my back.
And I will always have yours.
— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) February 4, 2021
“I think that the focus has to be on the Republican leadership of this House of Representatives for the disregard they have for the death of those children,” Pelosi said at the time, according to NBC News. “You’re just going to have to ask them why they thought that that raised itself to the level of something appropriate to do in the Congress of the United States.”
How did the Republican Party respond to the Democrats’ demands?
In a statement issued on Wednesday, top Republican Kevin McCarthy condemned Greene for endorsing conspiracy theories and making bigoted statements, but did not take away her posts on the two congressional committees.
“Past comments from and endorsed by Marjorie Taylor Greene on school shootings, political violence, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories do not represent the values or beliefs of the House Republican Conference,” he said. His statement was issued following a closed-door meeting of Republican leaders, where they debated whether to strip Greene of her leadership posts.
They were also deciding the fate of Wyoming Republican Representative Liz Cheney after she voted in favour of impeaching former President Trump. Finally, Cheney, the third-highest ranking Republican, survived a secret ballot to oust her by 145-61.
Meanwhile, there is more of a divide within the party as far as Greene is concerned. Several top Republican lawmakers have been vocal in their criticism of her past comments. Florida Senator Marco Rubio called her “either deranged or a sadist”. Mitch McConnell accused her of embracing “loony lies” that were a “cancer” to the party. Senator Todd Young of Indiana said she was “nutty” and an embarrassment to the party, BBC reported.
During the meeting, Marjorie apologised for her past statements. She said that she did, in fact, believe school shootings were real and called them “awful”. Greene told her colleagues that she had made a mistake by being curious about QAnon, The Hill reported. At the conclusion of her address, several Republican leaders gave her a standing ovation, the report stated.
Some Republicans have argued that Greene cannot be published for comments she made before she was elected.
Nancy Pelosi announced that the House would proceed with a vote on Thursday to decide whether Greene will be removed from the education and budget committees. To pass, the measure needs a simple majority in the Democrat-controlled House.
“McCarthy’s failure to lead his party effectively hands the keys over to Greene – an anti-Semite, QAnon adherent and 9/11 Truther,” Pelosi said in a statement. Republicans are responding to the Democrats’ push to expel Greene, by trying to remove Democratic lawmaker Ilhan Omar from her committees for statements they have alleged were anti-semitic.
Why not remove Marjorie Taylor Greene from Congress altogether?
Democratic Congressman Jimmy Gomez Wednesday announced that he was introducing a resolution to expel Greene from the Congress for her comments.
“As if it weren’t enough to amplify conspiracy theories that the September 11 attacks were an inside job and the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was staged, a string of recent media reports has now confirmed that Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene had previously supported social media posts calling for political violence against the Speaker of the House, members of Congress, and former President Barack Obama,” he said in a statement.
“Her very presence in office represents a direct threat against the elected officials and staff who serve our government, and it is with their safety in mind, as well as the security of institutions and public servants across our country, that I call on my House colleagues to support my resolution to immediately remove Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene from this legislative body,” he added. But is it possible for Greene to be expelled from the Congress altogether? Experts say that it seems unlikely.
To remove a lawmaker from Congress altogether required a two-thirds majority — which is no easy feat, particularly in a House of Representatives that is so narrowly divided. According to the Congressional Research Service, only five members of the House have been expelled in US history.
Have any lawmakers been removed from committees like this before?
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Democratic Party leaders have been pushing the Republicans to deal with Greene in the same way that they did with Republican Rep Steve King of Iowa. In 2019, King was expelled from the House Judiciary, Agriculture and Small Business committees after he questioned why the term “white supremacy” was considered offensive during an interview with the New York Times.
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