WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Mitch McConnell, the top Senate Republican, said on Monday that Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s embrace of conspiracy theories was a “cancer” on their party, as House Democrats moved to strip her of committee assignments.
Incendiary comments Greene made including denying that school shootings took place and expressing support for violence have emerged in recent days.
Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz introduced a resolution to remove the newly elected Republican representative from Georgia from her seats on the education and budget committees of the House of Representatives.
“Loony lies and conspiracy theories are cancer for the Republican Party and our country,” McConnell, the Senate minority leader, said in a statement to reporters.
“Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality,” he said.
Greene struck back at McConnell on Twitter, saying: “The real cancer for the Republican Party is weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully.”
She earlier warned Democrats that Republicans could remove them from committee positions if they win control of the House in 2022 elections.
“And we will regain the majority, make no mistake about that,” she wrote on Twitter.
“We can’t stop her from speaking,” Wasserman Schultz told an online news conference with two other Democrats, Representatives Ted Deutch and Jahana Hayes. “What we can do though, is essentially render her nearly powerless. That’s what the intent of this resolution is.”
Wasserman Schultz’s approach would require a simple majority vote to pass the House, where Democrats hold 221 seats to Republicans’ 211. That makes the measure far easier to pass then a separate effort, circulated by Democratic Representative Jimmy Gomez, to expel Greene, which would require a two-thirds vote to pass.
Greene has supported false online claims that school shootings were staged, including the 2012 killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
CNN reported last week that Greene in online posts before running for office expressed support for executing Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“If you cannot acknowledge basic truths, that 26 children and adults were murdered in Sandy Hook Elementary School, and 17 more were mercilessly slain in Parkland High School, then you cannot be trusted to make education and budget policy,” said Wasserman Schultz, who represents a Florida district next door to the district where Parkland is located.
Greene appeared to try to backtrack on Monday on some of her previous online comments, telling an interviewer that school shootings were “terrible” but that they did not have to happen if there could be a “good guy” at a school with a gun to protect students.
“These are not red-flag incidences, they are not fake and it’s terrible, the loss that these families go through,” Greene told One American News Network (OAN). “And it doesn’t have to happen if we would protect our children properly.”
The House Rules Committee set a hearing on the Democratic measure for Wednesday, indicating it could be on the floor of the chamber for a vote later in the week.
“It is my hope and expectation that Republicans will do the right thing and hold Rep. Greene accountable, and we will not need to consider this resolution,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a comment emailed to Reuters. “But we are prepared to do so if necessary.”
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan; Editing by Heather Timmons and Peter Cooney)