The House voted Thursday night to strip freshman Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of both of her committee assignments. Eleven Republicans joined all Democrats in the 230 to 199 vote.
The debate over whether to boot Greene, the QAnon-curious conspiracy theorist with a lengthy history of transgressions, ate up a day’s worth of business in the House. The most memorable moment came early on, though, when Greene defended herself in a floor speech. While she didn’t apologize, she expressed “regret” for some of the kookery or hostility in which she engaged.
“I was allowed to believe things that weren’t true, and I would ask questions about them and talk about them,” she said, speaking about her prior support for QAnon. “And that is absolutely what I regret.” Who, exactly, had allowed her to believe those things went unspecified.
Among her other observations: She acknowledged “9/11 absolutely happened,” she described the proceedings as seeking “to condemn me and crucify me in the public square” and she accused “the media” of being “just as guilty as QAnon” in presenting lies. It was not the sort of speech that you see every day on the floor of the House of Representatives. Yet.
The Democratic side would go on to point out that Greene had kept on posting inflammatory things and harassing people long after the date she said she had stopped believing in QAnon. But House Republicans weren’t focusing on the particulars of her behavior. The minority caucus leaders had been successful in keeping their party mostly united against the maneuver by complaining about the process. Their main argument was against the precedent the move sets, in which a majority moves to strip a minority member of their committee assignments, when tradition holds that such decisions are typically up to the respective parties.
It was the argument that some members who voted to impeach president Trump— like Reps. Liz Cheney, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Tom Rice, David Valadao, Dan Newhouse, and Peter Meijer—made in deciding not to strip Greene of her committees. Republicans warned that when the shoe is on the other foot, they won’t hesitate to act on the precedent and strip certain of their Democratic nemeses from committees.
The weakness in that warning was that there isn’t any obvious Democratic equivalent to Greene’s paranoid fantasies about powerful Jewish banking interests attacking California with a space laser. While some Democrats acknowledged turnabout was a reasonable concern, they also felt as though a person who likes Facebook comments about putting a “bullet in the head” of Nancy Pelosi doesn’t deserve the privilege of committee membership.
And the bipartisan vote helps defend Democrats against charges that they set a new unilateral precedent. Of the 11 Republicans who voted against Greene—Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Brian Fitzpatrick, Carlos Gimenez, Chris Jacobs, John Katko, Young Kim, Adam Kinzinger, Nicole Malliotakis, Maria Salazar, Chris Smith, and Fred Upton—two particular Greene controversies appeared to serve as motivators to cross the aisle. Three south Florida Republicans (Diaz-Balart, Salazar, and Gimenez) and four members of the New York and New Jersey (Jacobs, Katko, Malliotakis, and Smith) delegations voted to strip Greene of her committees. Greene’s dabbling in 9/11 trutherism and conspiracies over the Parkland, Florida school shooting apparently overrode any concerns about dangerous precedent for these members.
Democratic leaders and their campaign committees now have an on-the-record vote tying 199 House Republicans to Greene. A press release from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office released shortly after the vote—headlined “GOP Rapidly Morphing Into GQP With Strong Support for Greene”—said that “in the past 24 hours, House ‘Republicans’ made it abundantly clear where their allegiances lie: with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, conspiracy theorists and QAnon believers.” The release put “Republicans” in scare-quotes two more times, then abruptly ended that practice in subsequent references.
Greene, meanwhile, announced that she would hold a press conference outside the Capitol Friday morning. It’s not like she has anything else to do.