By Ron Kampeas
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives stripped a Georgia Republican congresswoman affiliated with the anti-Semitic QAnon conspiracy theory of her committee memberships, citing especially her apparent threats against her colleagues.
The vote Thursday, 230-199, was unprecedented: Membership in committees has until now been the province of party leadership, but Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican House minority leader, had refused to keep Greene off all committees, instead offering to take her off the education and budget committees, and to move her to the small business committee.
Democrats said Greene’s offenses, many of which predated her election last year, were so egregious that there could be no compromise. Keeping Greene off committees prevents her from any measure of influence in congressional procedures. The vote was largely on party lines: 11 Republicans joined every Democrat in voting to remove Greene from the committees — including Brian Fitzpatrick, who represents Pennsylvania’s 1st District.
The two Jewish Republican House members, Lee Zeldin of New York and David Kustoff of Tennessee, were not among the 11 Republican representatives voting with the Democrats to penalize Greene.
Democrats criticized Greene for multiple offenses, including peddling the fantastical delusions of the QAnon movement, some of them anti-Semitic, blaming disasters on prominent Jews. She had also made Islamophobic attacks on colleagues and had harassed a survivor of a school shooting who was lobbying for gun control.
Greene also had at times embraced theories that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were staged and that mass school shootings were staged.
Most offensive for Democrats were the threats Greene made against colleagues. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the Democratic majority leader, walked the floor with a poster of a Greene ad in which she is bearing an assault weapon alongside a photo of three progressive Democrats. Greene had also once said that Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic House speaker, was a “traitor,” which she said was a “crime punishable by death.” She had liked a social media comment that said Pelosi should be shot in the head.
“You would think that the Republican leadership in the Congress would have some sense of responsibility to this institution,” Pelosi said.
Republicans said Democrats were setting dangerous precedents by using comments that a lawmaker said before being elected to punish her, and by letting the majority determine a discretion — committee assignments — that the minority traditionally controls.
“The Democrats are choosing to raise the temperature by taking the unprecedented step to further their partisan power grab regarding the committee assignments of the other party,” McCarthy said in a statement before the vote.
Greene’s remarks on the floor were defensive and blame-shifting, although she expressed regret for some of her past statements. “I was allowed to believe things that weren’t true and I would ask questions; questions about them and talk about them. And that is absolutely what I regret,” she said, wearing a mask that said “Free Speech.”
She added, “Because if it weren’t for the Facebook posts and comments that I ‘liked’ in 2018, I wouldn’t be standing here today and you couldn’t point a finger and accuse me of anything wrong.”