Top House Democrats are moving to force Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene off multiple committees this week — with or without Kevin McCarthy’s help.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer delivered an ultimatum to McCarthy on Monday: Either Republicans move on their own to strip Greene (R-Ga.) of her committee assignments within 72 hours, or Democrats will bring the issue to the House floor.
The Democrats’ move, while highly unusual, comes amid intense fury within the Democratic Caucus over Greene’s long record of incendiary rhetoric, including peddling conspiracy theories that the nation’s deadliest mass shootings were staged. Greene also endorsed violence against Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats before she was elected to Congress.
Last week, Greene was officially awarded seats on the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Budget Committee.
Republicans, meanwhile, have been slow to act, with McCarthy saying only he’s planning to have a “conversation” with Greene about the mounting controversies sometime this week. The meeting between McCarthy and Greene has still not been scheduled, but could take place as early as Tuesday evening.
And Greene has shown zero contrition for her past actions, tweeting over the weekend that she will “never apologize.” She also took a jab at Hoyer on Twitter Monday and revealed plans to travel to Florida “soon” to meet with former President Donald Trump, who she said supports her “100 percent.”
Democrats are already teeing up potential floor action if McCarthy doesn’t act, scheduling a Rules Committee hearing for Wednesday afternoon on a resolution to strip Greene of her committee posts.
Some Republicans are privately warning of a dangerous new precedent if Democrats make a determination about who from the minority party is best fit to serve on committees, opening up the potential for a tit-for-tat between the two parties — especially if Republicans win back the House in two years. But while Democrats privately acknowledge their action is controversial, they say Greene’s behavior and rhetoric must be addressed forcefully.
“The resolution introduced at today’s pro forma would remove Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee assignments,” Hoyer said in a statement. “It is my hope and expectation that Republicans will do the right thing and hold Rep. Greene accountable, and we will not need to consider this resolution. But we are prepared to do so if necessary.”
On a leadership call on Sunday, Hoyer, Pelosi and other top Democrats discussed several options for taking action against Greene, including censure, expulsion and the resolution authored by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) that the Rules panel is considering Wednesday.
“We’re focused on making sure that we can render powerless the poisonous nature of this member,” Wasserman Schultz told reporters Monday, just before introducing her measure. “The House has to be able to take actions to police its own membership.”
A growing number of House Democrats say they are determined to punish Greene for her rhetoric and have drafted a slew of measures to do so. That includes two of the most severe sanctions that can be taken against a member of Congress: a formal censure and expulsion from the House.
Democrats are not ruling out further action and say this week’s move could be a first step.
The effort to force McCarthy’s hand creates even more of a conundrum for the California Republican, who is under increasing pressure from Democrats and some GOP-affiliated groups to take action against Greene yet may be reluctant to alienate the Trump wing of the party. The GOP leader, desperate to keep his ranks united, even trekked to Mar-a-Lago last week to make amends with the former president.
If McCarthy declines to deal with Greene internally and Democrats indeed bring this issue to the floor, it will force every single Republican to go on the record over Greene — a scenario that could put some GOP lawmakers in a tough spot.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, went even further than McCarthy in condemning Greene: McConnell suggested that she is “not living in reality” and warned that the type of conspiracy theories she has peddled are a “cancer” to the party.
“Loony lies and conspiracy theories are cancer for the Republican Party and our country,” McConnell said in a brief but scathing statement. “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.”
“This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party,” he added.
And over the weekend, Greene also claimed she has talked to Trump amid the firestorm and has his full backing. She followed that on Monday by telling One America News that she plans to visit Trump in Florida soon. That could make it even tougher for GOP leaders to punish Greene. Plus, Greene is under scrutiny for comments that she made before her time in Congress, making the issue of penalizing her more difficult.
Still, allies to McCarthy insist he hasn’t decided how to proceed and won’t cave to pressure from Democrats. Whether he decides to discipline Greene will depend on how their sit-down conversation goes later this week, with McCarthy determined to do whatever he thinks is best for his conference.
McCarthy had a similar face-to-face meeting in 2019 with former Rep. Steve King after he questioned why the term white nationalism was so offensive in an interview with The New York Times. The Iowa Republican showed little remorse during their interaction, and shortly afterward, McCarthy booted King from his committees — a move that the California Republican likes to tout when pressed on his willingness to hold his own members accountable.
Many Democrats say publicly and privately they do not expect McCarthy to take action and have been preparing their own options. Greene, meanwhile, has remained publicly defiant, though she has scrubbed some of her past social media posts.
“If we are waiting for Kevin McCarthy to have a moral compass … that’s never going to happen,” Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), who represents the site of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, told reporters Monday as she demanded the House act to strip Greene of all committee positions.
Hayes said Greene has “forfeited her right” to take part in a House panel, particularly the Education Committee. “Her elevation in the party is dangerous.”