By Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Embattled Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, facing a House vote to strip her of committee assignments, said Thursday that she regrets some “words of the past,” but she did not specifically apologize for racist and violent rhetoric.
The newly elected Georgia Republican asserted in a House speech that she was “a very regular American” who posted conspiracy theories from QAnon and others sources before she began campaigning for Congress, but that those views did not represent her.
She said Democrats who are criticizing her don’t know her, and that she was a political newcomer when she embraced former President Donald Trump and started delving into theories on the internet. She said she was “allowed” to believe certain ideas and she blamed the media for her political problems.
“These are words of the past and they do not represent me,” she said.
House Republicans will be forced to go on the record, defending or rebuking Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has drawn bipartisan condemnation over her embrace of far-right conspiracy theories, racist comments, as well as her past endorsement of violence against Democrats.
Democrats were expected to move forward Thursday with a vote that was all-but-certain to strip the Georgia Republican of her committee assignments. The political dilemma for Republicans underscores the tension that has riven the party over its future since Donald Trump lost the White House.
Do they support the newly elected Greene, whom Trump has praised as a “future Republican star”? Or do they side with Democrats and act against Greene, who has suggested that school shootings were staged, voiced support for the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory and once said Black people “are held slaves to the Democratic Party.”
Democrats gave Republicans an ultimatum earlier this week: strip Greene of her committee assignments, or they would. Bipartisan pressure built after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called Greene’s “loony lies” a “cancer” for the party.
But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on Wednesday ruled out taking action. Instead, he accused Democrats of a “partisan power grab” for targeting Greene, who once suggested that a Jewish-owned financial firm may have been involved in a plot to spark California wildfires using a space laser.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday that she was “profoundly concerned” by Republicans’ “acceptance of an extreme conspiracy theorist.”
“If any of our members threatened the safety of other members, we’d be the first ones to take them off a committee,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said hours before the planned vote.
A few Republicans probably will side Democrats and many have denounced Greene’s past remarks. But some warn that the Democratic majority is setting a dangerous precedent by meddling with Greene’s committee assignments, a process that the parties have long controlled.
McCarthy’s decision to back Greene comes at a time when the GOP has been ideologically adrift after Trump’s loss, struggling over whether to embrace his norm-busting divisiveness or the party’s more traditional, policy-oriented conservative values.
House Republicans blocked an effort Wednesday by conservative hard-liners to oust the No. 3 leader, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney had enraged Trump supporters by voting to impeach him over the riot at the U.S. Capitol.
In sticking by both women, McCarthy was attempting to placate both traditional conservatives and populists, like Greene, who emulate Trump. The moves were typical of McCarthy’s preference to avoid ruffling feathers as he charts his hoped-for path to some day becoming House speaker.
“You know what that’s going to mean?” he told reporters. “Two years from now, we’re going to win the majority. That’s because this conference is more united. We’ve got the right leadership team behind it.”
McConnell congratulated Cheney “on a landslide victory. It must be very satisfying to her, and it was a great win.”