WASHINGTON — The House will hold a referendum on Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene — the first-year Republican lawmaker from Georgia who has espoused wild conspiracy theories and questioned whether the Parkland school shooting actually happened — when it votes on whether to strip her from her committee roles Thursday.
Republicans, who are currently locked in a minor schism, will now have to choose whether to publicly denounce Greene or rally behind her. Democrats openly plan to paint the entire GOP with Greene’s extremist views if the party does not disavow her. Democrats will use Thursday’s vote to get each Republican member on the record about her beliefs. But Greene has significant support, including from former president Donald Trump, and many rank-and-file Republicans do not want to alienate his base of voters or be seen as caving to a Democratic pressure campaign.
Greene has expressed belief in the QAnon mass delusion, which posits that Trump is locked in a secret battle against a global cabal of satanic child sex abusers. She supported calls for executing prominent Democrats. She agreed with a Facebook comment that the Parkland school shooting where 17 people died was a “false flag planned shooting” and then confronted one of the survivors, David Hogg, while hurling conspiracy theories.
Despite all this, Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House, backed Greene in the November election and has more or less stood by her. McCarthy tried Wednesday to broker a last-minute deal to head off a vote on Greene’s committee assignments to protect his members from having to publicly express their support or disapproval.
McCarthy offered to remove Greene from her post on the Education and Labor Committee while allowing her to keep her seat on the Budget Committee. Steny Hoyer, the Democratic leader in the House, rejected that deal. He said the vote to boot Greene from both committees will go ahead on Thursday. With only a majority vote needed, Democrats are likely to succeed in kicking Greene from her committees on their own.
On Twitter, Greene remained defiant, tweeting throughout Wednesday about Democrats and the “bloodthirsty media” seeking to destroy the US and “erase God’s creation.”
Republicans are already embroiled in another heated debate over whether to kick Rep. Liz Cheney out of party leadership after she voted in favor of impeaching Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 siege on the Capitol. Cheney was one of 10 Republicans who voted for the impeachment, but she is the most high profile.
Trump’s many allies in the House Republican Conference are characterizing Cheney as a traitor to her party and calling for her to be removed.
“This civil war in the Republican Party that we may be on the precipice of is not one in which the outsiders fired the first shot,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, a vocal member of the charge to oust Cheney. Gaetz accused Cheney of breaching party unity first when she donated last year to the primary challenger to Rep. Thomas Massie, a consistent critic of party leadership.
“We are playing by the rules that the establishment wrote, but it’s not going to be a situation where people like Liz Cheney are going to be able to try to take out folks like Thomas Massie and that those of us that are outsiders are not going to return some political fire,” said Gaetz.
House Republicans will meet Wednesday at 4 p.m. to discuss whether Cheney should keep her post as chair of the conference, as well as what to do about Greene. Cheney’s role will be decided by Republicans alone, while Greene’s committee roles will go to a vote on the House floor on Thursday.