WASHINGTON — Embattled Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, facing a House vote to strip her of committee assignments, said Thursday that she regrets some “words of the past,” but she did not explicitly apologize for past rhetoric.
Alternating between contrition and defiance, the newly elected representative of Northwest Georgia’s 14th District asserted in a House speech that she was “a very regular American” who previously posted conspiracy theories from QAnon and other sources, but that those views did not represent her own.
She also looked to shift blame while falsely equating her own endorsement of violence against Democrats with those in the party who supported racial justice protests over the summer, which sometimes turned violent.
She pronounced the media “just as guilty as QAnon of presenting truth and lies.” QAnon’s core theory embraces the lie that Democrats are tied to a global sex trafficking ring that also involves Satanism and cannibalism.
Eleven Republicans joined 219 Democrats in backing her ejection from the Budget and Education and Labor committees, while 199 GOP lawmakers voted “no.”
House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern noted that while Greene expressed regret over her remarks and claimed to have had an epiphany that QAnon was false in 2018, many of her comments, including those endorsing violence against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, were more recent.
“I did not hear an apology or denouncement for the insinuation that political opponents should be violently dealt with,” said McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat. “It’s not ancient history. She continues to fundraise off this stuff.”
The 14th District Democratic Party released a statement Thursday saying they could no longer remain silent. The statement is signed by district chair Tim Shiflett and the chairs of the Floyd, Gordon, Walker, Chattooga, Murray, Dade, Whitfield, Pickens and Paulding county parties.
“The words and behavior of (Greene) ... do not correspond to what the good people of Northwest Georgia believe, nor is it how we behave toward one another in our daily lives,” it reads.
The missive states that her constituents need a representative to assist them with real-life issues and chides her for seeking personal attention at their expense.
“If Representative Greene cannot meet even bare minimum standards of human decency and respect and just do her job on behalf of the citizens of this district, she should step aside for someone, anyone, who will,” it reads. “It’s time, Representative Greene, to grow up or get out.”
Greene later posted a video of her pre-vote speech on YouTube, titled “Rep. Greene Defends Herself.”
Thursday’s vote forced Greene’s Republican colleagues to go on the record to defend or rebuke her after she has drawn bipartisan condemnation over her past remarks. The political dilemma for Republicans underscores the tension that has riven the party over its future since Donald Trump lost the White House.
Democrats gave Republicans an ultimatum this week: Strip Greene of her committee assignments, or they would. Bipartisan pressure built after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called Greene’s “loony lies” a “cancer” for the party.
But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., ruled out taking action. Instead, he accused Democrats of a “partisan power grab” for targeting Greene.
The conspiracy theories Greene has embraced came up during the closed Republican caucus meeting on Wednesday. Some said Greene apologized to her colleagues, though there were conflicting, vague versions of exactly what she’d said.
That’s at odds with recent statements Greene has made on Twitter, where she has vowed to never back down or apologize and labeled her critics traitors.
McCarthy condemned Greene’s past endorsements of conspiracy theories — after weeks of saying little critical of her — and said the first-term congresswoman had recognized in a private conversation that she must meet “a higher standard” as a lawmaker.
It’s unusual for party leaders to strip lawmakers of committee assignments, which can help them address their districts’ needs, raise campaign contributions and shape legislation.
Republicans warned that the Democratic majority is setting a bad precedent by meddling with Greene’s committee assignments, a process that the parties have long controlled.