US Democrats to punish Republican Greene

Richard Cowan and Makini Brice
·3-min read

US House of Representatives Democrats have advanced legislation to remove Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene from two high-profile committees, with her own party showing no sign of punitive action.

The House Rules Committee cleared the way for debate on Greene's fate on Thursday with controlling Democrats seeking to punish her for incendiary comments including support for violence against their party.

Greene in the past has propagated unfounded conspiracy theories and has been a vocal supporter of former president Donald Trump's false assertion the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday condemned her comments.

However in a statement he said Democrats' effort to remove her from the education and labor and budget committees was a distraction and deepened divisions.

House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, a Democrat, said Greene had "doubled down" rather than apologised for her remarks.

"Anybody who advocates assassinations of members of Congress or anybody, I don't believe should enjoy the privilege of serving on a committee," he said.

McGovern said his personal opinion was Greene should either resign or be expelled from Congress and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement criticising McCarthy's "cowardly refusal to deal with Greene".

Last week, CNN reported Greene had supported calls for violence against Democratic lawmakers, including Pelosi.

Representative Tom Cole, the senior Republican on the Rules panel, called Greene's remarks "extraordinarily disturbing".

But he and other committee Republicans said Democrats should not be deciding the committee assignments of their party.

As the Rules Committee debated Greene's fate, Republicans huddled behind closed doors to discuss the thorny situation that has divided the party.

The 211 rank-and-file Republicans in the 435-seat House also argued over whether to punish establishment lawmaker Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, who last month voted to impeach Trump.

If Republicans choose to strip Cheney of her leadership role while rewarding Greene with high-profile committee assignments, they would send a powerful message about the party's future and, potentially, that of Trump within it.

McCarthy defended Cheney, telling reporters on Wednesday: "People can have differences of opinion," adding, "Liz has a right to vote her conscience".

Next Tuesday, the US Senate begins Trump's impeachment trial on a charge of inciting the January 6 storming of the Capitol by his followers in which five people died and members of Congress scrambled to safety.

Cheney, who heads the House Republican Conference, was the highest ranking Republican in the House to vote to impeach Trump after the attack on Capitol Hill.

Greene has faced bipartisan criticism, including from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who warned against "loony lies and conspiracy theories" that he said "are a cancer for the Republican Party and our country".

Last week, CNN reported she had also approved of calls for violence against Democratic lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

McCarthy is being pulled in opposite directions from members of his rank-and-file, who have been riven for months over Trump's insistence, without evidence, the 2020 election was "stolen" from him.

Greene, 46, is a political newcomer who took office just last month while Cheney, 54 and the daughter of former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney, served in Republican administrations before first winning election to Congress in 2016.