Arizona's US House members join party-line vote rebuking Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene

Ronald J. Hansen
Arizona Republic
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., argues against an effort to take away committee assignments from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., over her controversial past comments.

Arizona's U.S. representatives voted along party lines on Thursdayto help strip controversial Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee assignments.

Arizona's five Democratic House members joined with everyone in their party to remove the freshman lawmaker from a pair of committees after learning she "liked" on Facebook a 2019 comment that suggested House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., should be executed. Greene, R-Ga., has also reacted approvingly to a range of cultural conspiracies, including QAnon. 

All four of Arizona's Republican House members were part of nearly unanimous GOP opposition to the historicrebuke. The measure passed 230-199 with 11 Republicans siding with every Democrat to take away Greene's assignments.

During the debate preceding the vote, Republicans warned the punishment against Greene — for actions taken before her political career began — could lead to similar reprisals when they again control the House.

"I'm afraid it's going to cascade," said Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., who noted that Democrats, including Pelosi, have overlooked their own comments that "dehumanize."

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the House had to act because the GOP would not. He held aloft a placard with a Facebook post from Greene's campaign last year in which she was holding an AR-15 and included the faces of Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michiganwith a caption that read the "Squad's worst nightmare."

"I urge my colleagues to look at that image and ask what message it sends," he said.

Hoyer noted that in 2019 Republicans took the same action against former Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, for questioning why "white supremacist" was considered an offensive term.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., cautioned Democrats over managing the work of the other party.

"You’ll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think," McCarthy said. "If that’s the new standard, if people are held to what they said prior to even being in this House, if a majority party gets to decide who sits on what other committees, I hope you keep that standard because we have a long list."

Greene had been named to the House Budget Committee and the Education and Labor Committee.

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., had criticism of the Democratic move.

"Today, House Democrats violated the Constitution by punishing Congresswoman Greene for words she spoke as a private citizen. This unprecedented power grab is a low point for America," he said in a written statement. "I support every American’s right to exercise free speech and petition the Government for a redress of grievances without fear of punishment or reprisal, and Rep. Greene in particular for her steadfast support of an America First policy agenda."

The Democrats' action against Greene followed tense days in the GOP over what to do about Greene, as well as Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the No. 3 ranking member in her party's House leadership who had come under heavy criticism for voting to impeach former President Donald Trump on a charge of inciting an insurrection in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Behind closed doors on Wednesday, a divided Republican conference opted against stripping Cheney of her party duties. On Thursday, they publicly united behind Greene.

Biggs, who heads the conservative House Freedom Caucus, has emerged in recent days as one of Greene's strongest defenders, saying there was a "hypocritical double standard" at work.

"Many members of the radical left in Congress have advocated for violence, anti-Semitism, anti-law enforcement, and other sentiments that have violated rules of decorum and principles of American decency," he said in a statement earlier in the week.

Ahead of the votes against her, Greene,wearing a mask that said "free speech" on it, tried to walk back some of her positions and described herself as "a very regular American" who doesn't trust the government.

She admitted "regret" for believing in some conspiracies and said in 2018 she "stopped believing" the pro-Trump QAnon theory, which casts some celebrities, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as devil-worshiping pedophiles and cannibals.  

"Later in 2018 when I started finding misinformation, lies, things that were not true in these QAnon posts, I stopped believing it," she said. "Any source of information that is a mix of truth and a mix of lies is dangerous, no matter what it is saying, what party it is helping, anything or any country it's about. It's dangerous. And these are the things that happen on the left and the right."

On Thursday, Greene acknowledged "9/11 absolutely happened" though she had previously doubted the Pentagon was struck by a hijacked jet on Sept. 11, 2001.

She similarly said "school shootings are absolutely real," a message far different than the one she expressed when she agreed with someone online who called a 2018 school massacre in Florida a "false flag planned shooting."

In a newly surfaced 2019 video, Greene is seen badgering David Hogg, then a teenaged survivor of that shooting, calling him an "idiot" and saying, "He only talks when scripted."

That video was released a month before she entered her congressional race in Georgia.

The partisan division focused on what to do with Greene, but it also served as a sign the long-standing partisan gulf in Washington is unaltered by the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol or a change in presidential administrations.

Republic reporter Rylee Kirk contributed to this article.

Reach the reporter Ronald J. Hansen at ronald.hansen@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-4493. Follow him on Twitter @ronaldjhansen.

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