It was a vote that could’ve easily been avoided. If House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had responded to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) record of radicalism and extremism by denying her committee assignments, just as he’d done two years ago in response to Rep. Steve King’s (R-Iowa) record, House Democrats wouldn’t have felt the need to act.
But the House GOP leader preferred to do nothing, leaving House Democratic leaders with little choice.
The House voted Thursday to remove Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., from the Budget Committee and the Education and Labor Committee after her social media posts revealed her spreading dangerous and racist conspiracy theories. The House voted 230-199, with 11 Republicans joining every Democrat who voted.
As a practical matter, this renders Greene’s presence on Capitol Hill largely meaningless. She’ll still be able to vote on legislation on the floor, and she’ll presumably still be involved with constituent services, but the congresswoman’s day-to-day responsibilities as a federal legislator no longer exist in any meaningful sense.
How Greene intends to deal with such conditions remains to be seen, though she’s scheduled a press conference for later this morning. Her many detractors are no doubt hoping she’ll be announcing her resignation, though that seems unlikely.
Looking over the roll call, it’s notable that most of the House Republicans who voted to punish Greene came from either south Florida, because of the right-wing Georgian’s unhinged commentary about the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, or New York, because of Greene’s bonkers conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks.
But the anti-Greene contingent within the GOP was nevertheless small. A day after much of the conference gave her a standing ovation during a closed-door meeting, 94% of House Republicans voted to shield Greene from even the most obvious consequences, despite revelations that she, among other things, expressed support for violence and murder targeting U.S. elected officials.
And that’s ultimately what I think was the most important part of yesterday’s proceedings: what we’re learning about Greene’s indefensible record matters, but so too is what we’re learning about Greene’s party.
The Associated Press reported overnight that Republican leaders, particularly in the House, are “unable, or unwilling, to purge far-right radicals from their party.” Between Wednesday’s conference meeting and Thursday’s floor vote, the GOP doesn’t even seem to be trying.
The attack on the U.S. Capitol, which occurred a month ago tomorrow, could have been, and should have been, a wake-up call to the Republican Party. As the Trump era came to an end, Republicans confronted — in a rather literal sense — the consequences of tolerating, endorsing, promoting, and validating their base’s most dangerous instincts.
As a deadly, insurrectionist riot reached their doorstep, it stood to reason that GOP officials would see the value in rejecting extremists, repudiating radicals like Greene, and moving their party closer to reality.
But as we were reminded yesterday afternoon on Capitol Hill, 94% of House Republicans prefer to let these opportunities pass them by.