The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday voted to strip first-term Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments after a weeks-long uproar over social media posts that either encouraged political violence, endorsed outlandish conspiracy theories or espoused viewpoints that were racist, anti-Semitic or transphobic.
In the 230-199 vote, which Democrats framed as an opportunity to prevent the far-right conspiracy theory known as QAnon from taking hold in Congress, just 11 Republicans crossed the aisle to oust Greene from her newly assigned spots on the House Education and Labor and House Budget Committees.
Three of the Republicans were Reps. Young Kim from Southern California; Nicole Malliotakis, whose district includes Staten Island and part of Brooklyn; and Maria Elvira Salazar of Florida.
QAnon supporters believe former President Donald Trump was fighting a globalist ring of cannibalistic pedophiles that includes high-profile Democrats and Hollywood celebrities. Greene shared many of QAnon’s theories before her election but said ahead of the vote that she now knows the conspiracy is not true. She also turned her criticism toward the media, a frequent target of Trump, saying, falsely, that mainstream media organizations are “just as guilty” of spreading lies.
“These were words of the past and these things do not represent me, they do not represent my district, and they do not represent my values,” Greene said.
Greene spread many of the conspiracy theories in 2018 and 2019, before her election to Congress. More recently, however, she joined Trump in falsely claiming the results of the 2020 election were invalid and said she would never back down or apologize for her past actions.
The Democratic-controlled House took the unprecedented step of removing Greene from her committees after they could not reach an agreement with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy about how to address Greene’s behavior, which also included harassing survivors of school shootings and indicating support for the execution of Democratic leaders.
McCarthy offered to remove Greene from the Education and Labor Committee but not the Budget Committee. Democrats said it had to be both or they would move forward on their own.
“You would think that the Republican leadership in the Congress would have some sense of responsibility to this institution … for some reason, they have chosen not to go down that path,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.
McCarthy said Greene’s removal would “only deepen divisions in this House.”
McCarthy met with Greene earlier in the week, trying to avert her removal from both panels. He said he “made clear” that her past statements would not be tolerated and that going forward she would be held to a higher standard. Many Republican lawmakers applauded Greene during a closed-door meeting Wednesday night over her handling of the outcry.
“I won’t back down. I’ll never apologize. And I’ll always keep fighting for the people,” Greene wrote in a Twitter thread Sunday evening after a phone call with Trump, adding that Democrats and the “blood thirsty media … are attacking me now just like they always attack [him].” An appeal to supporters brought in $175,000 over two days, she said.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who authored the resolution to remove Greene, said Thursday that Greene’s remarks this week showed she was not ready to make amends for her past behavior.
“While it is an action we do not take lightly, it is the necessary course of action in the face of her extraordinary behavior,” Wasserman Schultz said on the House floor.
Most Republican lawmakers denounced Greene’s past statements even as they argued she should not be removed from her committees. They say since most of the behavior in question was before she was elected, it is therefore not under the House’s jurisdiction.
The only recent example of a lawmaker who lost committee posts was Rep. Steve King of Iowa in early 2019. Republican leaders declined to put him back on his committees after his reelection due to remarks he made about white supremacy. After being stripped of his post on the agriculture panel, he lost his 2020 primary race.
In debate ahead of the vote, Rep. Jackie Walorski of Indiana, the top Republican on the House Ethics Committee, said that while she did not defend Greene’s words or actions, the vote was “nothing more than a partisan power grab” by Democrats in an “effort to consolidate power.”
Rep. Ted Deutch, the Democratic ethics chair, responded: “The appeals to process should be recognized for what they are: an attempt to shield her from accountability.”
Greene herself has suggested the precedent set by removing her will be used against Democrats when Republicans regain control of the House, saying there would be “payback.”
Democrats insist that Greene’s removal is about taking a stand against racism and hate speech, along with stemming QAnon’s spread.
McCarthy said Wednesday night that “I don’t even know what [QAnon] is,” but the minority leader has weighed in on the conspiracy theory at several points in the past.
McCarthy was speaking after the party’s meeting that put on display the Republican Party’s internal dilemma over whether Trump should remain its de facto leader or be deposed after his encouragement of the riot at the U.S. Capitol that prompted his second impeachment. The Senate plans to start its trial on Monday.
Senate Republicans have been far more forceful than their House counterparts in their denouncement of Greene. They face reelection in statewide races that are typically more competitive than many highly partisan House districts.
The other Republicans who voted to remove Greene from her committees were Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan, Mario Diaz Balart of Florida, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, John Katko of New York, Chris Smith of New Jersey, Carlos Giminez of Florida and Chris Jacobs of New York.