Corrected 8:38 p.m. | Despite the furor over Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s embrace of violence against members of Congress and conspiracy theories, the likelihood of some sort of punishment by her fellow lawmakers is no sure thing.
Greene called a Parkland, Florida, school shooting survivor a “coward,” sympathized with QAnon conspiracy theories and liked comments on Facebook that alluded to the murder of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, leading to Republicans denouncing her words and some Democrats calling for her to be expelled.
House Ethics Chairman Ted Deutch, who represents the Florida district that includes Parkland, on Thursday said that Greene should not “have a public platform to further spread dangerous lies” as a “Member of Congress.”
CNN reported that in 2019, Greene liked a Facebook comment that said “a bullet to the head would be quicker” to remove Pelosi from the speakership. Greene also liked comments about executing FBI agents and enthusiastically engaged with a post that asked about hanging former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of State.
On the heels of the CNN report, a video reemerged showing Greene accosting Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg near the Capitol as she makes false claims about Hogg in 2019.
But despite Greene’s past actions and comments, none of the top three most powerful House Republicans are calling for her to lose her committee assignments or for any ethics sanctions, such as expulsion or censure.
Michele Exner, a spokesperson for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, called Greene’s comments “deeply disturbing” and said McCarthy plans to have a conversation with Greene.
“These are new members. Give them an opportunity before you claim what you believe they have done and what they will do,” McCarthy said of Greene and Boebert at the time. “I think it’s fair for all.”
Greene did not seem impressed. “She has no plans to resign,” Nick Dyer, a spokesperson for Greene, said in a statement.
Pelosi told reporters Thursday that she is concerned that House Republican leaders are “willing to overlook, ignore those statements.”
“Assigning her to the Education Committee when she has mocked the killing of little children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, when she has mocked the killing of teenagers in high school, at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. What could they be thinking, or is thinking too generous a word for what they might be doing?” Pelosi said of Greene being assigned to the Education and Labor Committee. “It’s absolutely appalling, and I think the focus has to be on the Republican leadership of this House of Representatives for the disregard they have for the death of those children.”
Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott, a Virginia Democrat, also spoke out against Greene’s appointment to his panel by Republican leadership but did not name her.
“House Republicans have appointed someone to this Committee who has publicly endorsed violence against elected officials,” Scott said in a statement. “House Republicans made this appointment and Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy must explain how someone with this background represents the Republican party on education issues.”
A resolution for expulsion, censure or reprimand usually goes through the House Ethics Committee, but it doesn’t need to. Such resolutions can be called up by the sponsor of the resolution without going through committee. If the matter affects the integrity of the House or the conduct of a member, it is a privileged question, meaning those should have precedence over all questions except for motions to adjourn.
California Democratic Rep. Jimmy Gomez announced Wednesday that he plans to introduce a resolution to expel Greene from the chamber.
“Her very presence in office represents a direct threat against the elected officials and staff who serve our government, and it is with their safety in mind, as well as the security of institutions and public servants across our country, that I call on my House colleagues to support my resolution to immediately remove Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene from this legislative body,” Gomez said in a statement.
Expulsion of members is very rare and requires a two-thirds majority. Twenty total members of Congress, 15 senators and five House members, have been expelled from their seats, according to a Congressional Research Service report from 2018.
That report also addresses misconduct prior to election: “... whether the House and Senate have authority to expel a Member for conduct that solely occurred prior to an intervening election appears to be unresolved.
“House and Senate practice (drawn primarily from committee reports relating to expulsion resolutions that were either not approved or not acted upon by the full body) concerning expulsions for prior misconduct are relatively inconsistent and do not appear to establish a clear and constant interpretation of whether prior conduct (i.e., conduct occurring before an intervening election) may form the basis for an expulsion.”
Censure and reprimand are other types of formal punishment and each require a simple majority.
The most recent formal sanction in the House occurred in July when Arizona Republican Rep. David Schweikert was reprimanded for permitting his office to misuse taxpayer dollars, violating campaign finance reporting requirements, and several other violations of federal law and House rules.
There is precedence for stripping members of their committee assignments. Former Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, was removed from committees in January 2019 by the Republican Steering Committee after making favorable comments about white supremacy, for instance. An effort that month to censure him, though, fizzled.
Tom Rust, a spokesperson for the House Ethics Committee, had no comment.
This report was revised to remove an incorrect reference to the Parkland, Florida school shooting.
Chris Cioffi, Lindsey McPherson and Caroline Simon contributed to this report.