Republicans faced a reckoning on Wednesday. Leaders in the US House of Representatives confronted calls to punish two prominent congresswomen. They represent clashing futures for a party with no dominant leader since Donald Trump left the White House.
Those loyal to the former president are demanding Republicans strip congresswoman Liz Cheney, the No 3 Republican, of her leadership post. They aim to punish her for her vote last month to impeach Trump.
At the same time, Republicans are facing mounting calls from Democrats and some moderate Republicans to remove newly-elected congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia from her powerful committee assignments. They cite her history of bigoted and violent commentary on social media.
Greene Refuses to Step Down
Republican House minority leader Kevin McCarthy met with Greene, a devotee of the antisemitic conspiracy theory QAnon, who indicated support in the past on social media for executing Democratic politicians, to discuss her committee assignments on Tuesday night.
But the congresswoman apparently refused to resign from those positions of her own accord.
On Wednesday, House majority leader and Democrat Steny Hoyer said Democrats did not have any other choice. They had to move forward with a resolution to strip Greene of her assignments.
After a discussion with McCarthy, Hoyer said it was “clear there is no alternative” to holding a vote on the floor of the House. This comes as an indication that Republican leadership was not willing to strip Greene of her assignments. The vote was scheduled for Thursday.
Earlier this week, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell assailed Greene’s embrace of what he termed “loony lies and conspiracy theories,” calling her views a “cancer for the Republican party”.
But McCarthy and other leaders have been far more circumspect, aware of her sway among the party’s grassroots – and with Trump, whom she met with earlier this week at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where he has been holed up since leaving Washington on 20 January without attending election victor Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The resolution, introduced by Democrats, cites Greene’s recent conduct. This is a reference to her social media posts that include support for an array of conspiracy theories.
Other Democrats have introduced measures to censure Greene on the House floor or expel her from the chamber. It comes as an extraordinary step that would require support from dozens of Republicans.
Greene Defends Herself
Greene has defended herself on Twitter, claiming that Democrats’ efforts to remove her from the House labor and education committee are an attack on her identity as a “White, Woman, Wife, Mother, Christian, Conservative, Business Owner”.
But her appointment to the education committee was particularly problematic. This comes after it was revealed that she had wrongly claimed the 2018 deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, was a “false flag” event, in other words, a hoax, staged by those opposing lax gun rights. She has also publicly harassed a survivor of that massacre in person.
Greene also serves on the House budget committee.
McCarthy, a staunch ally of Trump who voted to overturn the election results in two states based on spurious allegations of voter fraud in the hours after the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol by Trump supporters on January 6, also faces pressure from members of his own party to reprimand Cheney during a closed-door meeting later on Wednesday.
Cheney, the daughter of former vice-president Dick Cheney and now a Republican representative for the family’s home state of Wyoming, has received support from Republican leaders, including Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.
“A leader with deep convictions and the courage to act on them,” he said, describing her. Republican senator Lindsey Graham, a frequent defender of Trump, said Cheney was “one of the strongest and most reliable conservative voices in the Republican party” and called her leadership in the party “invaluable.”
Tensions Within The Republican Party
The fates of the two congresswomen underscore the deep internal tensions without the Republican party. They come as it grapples with the aftershocks of Trump’s presidency.
The only president in American history to undergo impeachment twice, Trump maintains strong support among the Republican faithful. He does so even after being de-platformed on social media for whipping up supporters who led the deadly riot at the Capitol on 6 January.
Greene, meanwhile, has become a serious liability for the party. Democrats are seizing on the Republican turmoil. This week, they launched a half-million-dollar advertising campaign to try to make Greene the face of the Republican party.
The ads link eight Republicans, including McCarthy, to Greene and the QAnon conspiracy theory. “He stood with Q, not you,” a narrator says in an ad targeting Republican congressman Don Bacon of Nebraska. The narrator was referring to the shadowy and likely fake anonymous government operative character. This character, whose followers know as Q, stays at the center of that conspiracy movement.
Conservative Lawmakers Attempt to Turn the Tables
In response to Democrats’ push to hold Greene accountable, some conservative lawmakers are attempting to turn the tables. They aim to do so by pushing a long-short resolution. This would instead strip Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar of her committee assignments over comments she made in 2019. Members in both parties condemned her comments as antisemitic.
“If the Democrat majority wants to go down this road, they should start by dealing with their own members who have been at this before and AFTER their election to Congress,” said Texas Congressman Brian Babin, who introduced the resolution.
“Get a grip on reality,” Congressman Dean Phillips, a Democrat of Minnesota, said of the effort. “Omar didn’t belittle a school shooting survivor, claim that no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, insist lasers started the CA wildfires, or endorse the assassination of the speaker of the US House of Representatives.”
The measure, supported mostly by a handful of far-right Republicans, will all but certainly fail. However, it highlights the potential risk of one party forcing the other to police its members.
In a sign of how emboldened the radical right has become since Trump’s election, Greene said she raised $160,000 in grassroots donations after a plea to supporters to “defend my seat from the DC swamp.”
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Source: The Guardian