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House To Decide If Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Is Dropped From 2 Key Panels

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A provision of the United States Constitution allows the House of Representatives some control over its own membership. The House gets to make its own rules and may punish members, quote, "for disorderly behavior." Using that provision, the House will vote on Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia today. Democrats want to strip the newly elected Republican of committee assignments. She promotes the QAnon conspiracy theory and has endorsed political violence. Now, before they came to today's vote, House leaders gave Republicans a chance to punish their own fellow Republican. But after a meeting of his party caucus, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy declined to do anything.

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KEVIN MCCARTHY: They're going to judge her on things that were said that she has now denounced before she was ever a member of Congress. I just wonder if they take that same standard.

INSKEEP: Now, when McCarthy says she has denounced her past remarks, he's talking about what she reportedly said in a closed-door meeting to other Republicans. She has not made a public apology. And NPR congressional correspondent Kelsey Snell is following all of this. Kelsey, good morning.

KELSEY SNELL, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: I just got to recall, this is a person who praised the QAnon conspiracy theory, which talks of cannibalistic pedophiles in government. She said that school shootings were false flag operations. And she also promoted the false election fraud theory that got people killed. How did McCarthy make peace with all of that?

SNELL: In addition to the remarks that we just heard from him, McCarthy put out a statement saying that, you know, Greene had recognized that members of Congress have, as he described it, a responsibility to hold themselves to a higher standard than how she presented herself as a private citizen. Now, that's a pretty formal way of saying that she has learned from her mistakes in his words. He offered Democrats a chance to address their concerns that didn't go as far as stripping her committee assignments, both budget and the education committee. But Democrats wouldn't accept that. He says that what they're doing is essentially a power grab. He's trying to reframe this away from being a referendum on where Republicans are on QAnon to being about Democrats trying to take away the committee assignments of a Republican member. And, you know, I should note that all of this is happening as Greene is fundraising off of the situation. She's made several fundraising asks and tweeted that she has raised over $160,000.

INSKEEP: Yeah, she's saying this. So she's not in public apologizing or contrite. She's saying they're coming after me and send me money. So Democrats now control the House, of course, and they are scheduling this vote today. What do they vote on?

SNELL: Yeah, they'll be voting on removing her from those two committees. You know, Democrats say they don't have a choice but to remove her from the committee that's tasked with writing education policy in addition to the budget policy. Here is what Hakeem Jeffries, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said yesterday.

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HAKEEM JEFFRIES: How can you put someone who is a mass shooting denier who mocks the survivors of Parkland on the education committee?

SNELL: He also said that Democrats feel that Greene is an example of a wider trend within the Republican Party.

INSKEEP: And there are other people who've expressed sympathy for QAnon now in the House Republican caucus. What does that do to the effort to work together at all?

SNELL: This is a really ugly moment. And I think that the fight over stripping the committee assignments could have really long-term consequences. Republicans are pointing out that if Democrats are kicking someone off of a committee now, what's stopping Republicans from doing the same to Democrats sometime down the road? But Democrats say this isn't just about an unpopular opinion or something distasteful that was done before somebody was elected. It's about threats of violence against other lawmakers and harassment of victims of mass murder.

INSKEEP: I guess we should note, Republicans did some other business in this closed-door meeting. They declined to punish Marjorie Taylor Greene, but they also voted to keep one of their leaders, Representative Liz Cheney, who voted for impeaching the former president, Donald Trump.

SNELL: That's right. They voted 61 people against and 145 in favor of keeping Cheney in her leadership position.

INSKEEP: Kelsey, thanks so much.

SNELL: Thanks for having me.

INSKEEP: NPR congressional correspondent Kelsey Snell. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.