Democrats and several Republicans in the House of Representatives have voted to remove newly elected Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee assignments following her legacy of antisemitism and anti-Muslim remarks, amplification of violent conspiracy theories and endorsement of political executions.
The House voted 230-199 to oust the Republican congresswoman from the House Education and Labor Committee as well as the House Budget Committee after lawmakers condemned her hateful rhetoric and support for baseless far-right conspiracy theories on social media and in video footage. Eleven Republicans broke from the party to vote with Democrats.
US Rep Ilhan Omar, whose family fled civil war in Somalia, stressed that “political violence does not go away on its own.”
Ms Omar – one of two Muslim women in Congress, along with US Rep Rashida Tlaib – has endured repeated attacks from Ms Greene, who called their elections an “Islamic invasion” in Congress.
“This is about whether or not we will continue to be a peaceful and functioning democracy,” Ms Omar said on the House floor on Thursday.
Ms Tlaib said Ms Greene’s appointments to two House committees is an “outright endorsement of white supremacy” in Congress.
“There must be consequences,” she said.
Republicans repeatedly threatened that her removal sets a precedent they are more than willing to follow, drawing false equivalences to Ms Greene’s unapologetic bigotry to statements from Democrats criticising the influence of Israel-connected lobbying firms in US politics.
“You'll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think,” minority leader Kevin McCarthy said, adding that the GOP has a “long list” of Democratic targets.
In her 10-minute speech to the House on Thursday, Ms Greene did not apologise for her bigoted remarks and equivocated when discussing her history, blaming instead news media and “cancel culture” for the backlash she received after her election in 2020.
Following right-wing outrage over investigations into Donald Trump and Russia, she said that she fell into a QAnon rabbit hole on social media and “was allowed to believe things that weren’t true and I would ask questions about them and talk about them, and that is absolutely what I regret”.
“If it weren’t for the Facebook posts and comments that I liked in 2018, I wouldn't be standing here today and you couldn't point a finger or accuse me of anything wrong because I’ve lived a very good life that I’m proud of and my family’s proud of, my husband’s proud of, my children are proud of, and that’s what my district elected me for,” she said.
Closing her remarks, she said: “Will we allow the media that is just as guilty as QAnon of presenting truth and lies to divide us? Will we allow ourselves to be addicted to hate and hating one another? I hope not, because that’s not the future I want for my children and it's not the future I want for any of your children."
“To equate the media with QAnon is just beyond the pale,” said Democratic congressman Jim McGovern, chair of the House Rules Committee.
“I did not hear a disavowment or an apology,” he said, pointing out that Ms Greene continues to “profit off hurtful remarks” by touting her fundraising efforts as lawmakers debated in recent weeks to oust her from committees.
On Thursday, she sent a fundraising email falsely claiming that US Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told demonstrators to “punch a cop” and characterising the vote on her removal “because I dared to stand up for you instead of the DC elites”.
“I don’t know what the hell happened to the Republican party,” he said. “Just spend a moment and look at her social media posts … Don’t take my word for it. Google it. It’s all there.”
On Thursday evening, a furious Steny Hoyer – the 81-year-old House Majority Leader – raised a placard on the House floor with an enlarged photograph of Ms Greene holding a rifle next to a composite image of Ms Omar, Ms Tlaib and Ms Ocasio-Cortez, which Ms Greene shared on social media during her campaign, touting herself as the “squad’s worst nightmare”. Facebook removed it for violating its policies against inciting violence.
“I heard about motherhood today,” he said. “Two of those women between them have six children. They're mothers. One of them does not have children and she has come to this body asking for more housing for people, more healthcare for people, more income for people. How awful. And they're not 'the squad.' ... They’re people. They're our colleagues.”
He walked the image to the other side of the House chambers to show it to Republicans.
“Imagine your faces on this poster,” he said. “Imagine it’s a Democrat with an AR-15. Imagine what your response would be.”
The congresswoman's ideology and public persona is wrapped within beliefs and rhetoric related to the sprawling QAnon delusion, including the belief of a conspiratorial "deep state" in American politics that Ms Greene and other far-right figures like Donald Trump have promised to combat if elected.
In social media posts from 2018 and 2019, she also appeared to endorse "false flag" conspiracies involving school shootings and the 9/11 terror attacks, the executions of Democratic officials, and the antisemitic belief that a Jewish cabal ignited a deadly wildfire from space. She also moderated a far-right Facebook page that became a forum for death threats and conspiracies.
In her remarks on the House floor, she said 9/11 attacks “absolutely happened” and that school shootings are “absolutely real”.
On Wednesday night, she addressed a conference of Republican lawmakers during a closed-door meeting, during which she reportedly apologised, after Congressman McCarthy said she would not face any consequences from within her own party, which voted on whether to strip third-ranking GOP congresswoman Liz Cheney from her leadership role for voting to impeach the former president. After her apology, Ms Greene received a standing ovation.
"What should have happened is some remorse for the pain that the gentlewoman from Georgia has caused, and acknowledged that pain, the damage she has caused, the violence she has advocated," said Democratic congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who authored the resolution to remove Ms Greene from her committee appointments.
She added: "I would have hoped she would have realised the awe and gravity of serving in this institution, and despite all the harm of the words and actions she caused, that now that she’s a member of this body, that she’s sorry."
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