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On Greene's fate, GOP leaders eye an offer Dems can easily refuse

It's amazing just how badly House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is managing his party's Marjorie Taylor Greene fiasco.
Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., wears a Trump Won mask during the first session of the 117th Congress in the House Chamber as members of the 117th Congress are sworn in on Jan. 3, 2021.Caroline Brehman / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

In the wake of the latest revelations surrounding Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), including instances in which she expressed support for violence against U.S. elected officials, Democrats are no longer willing to wait for Republican leaders to do the right thing. As early as tomorrow, House Dems are prepared to vote on a resolution stripping the right-wing congresswoman of her committee assignments.

It was against this backdrop that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) finally held a private meeting with Greene to discuss her situation. According to Politico, the House GOP leader has crafted something resembling a plan.

During a two-hour meeting Tuesday night with Greene, McCarthy explained to the QAnon supporter that her controversial past statements were coming to a head. The problem, McCarthy told her: Democrats are threatening to force a vote to remove her from her committees — and that puts the entire GOP Conference in a bad spot. McCarthy tried to give Greene options, according to a person familiar with their talk: She could denounce QAnon and apologize publicly for espousing hurtful conspiracy theories and endorsing violence on Democrats. She could remove herself from the panel to spare her colleagues a vote on the matter. Or, she could face removal from her own GOP peers.

It's not entirely clear how the Georgia extremist responded to those options, though the Politico report suggested the House minority leader was discouraged by Greene's reaction: McCarthy "called a late-night meeting with the panel that designates committee assignments to discuss removing Greene."

But just as importantly, McCarthy apparently thinks there's room for some kind of compromise: he reportedly told his GOP colleagues that he'd make House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) an offer in which Republicans would remove Greene from the Education Committee, while leaving her on the Budget Committee.

Hoyer wasted little time shrugging off the offer, and signaling a floor vote tomorrow on the resolution to punish Greene. [Update: See below.]

What amazes me is how badly McCarthy is handling this.

For one thing, the House GOP leader came up with a clumsy compromise that, from a Democratic perspective, didn't make any sense at all. The whole point of stripping Greene of her committee assignments is to make clear that lawmakers consider her radicalism intolerable. McCarthy's plan, in effect, was to tell his Democratic counterpart, "Sure, Greene's ridiculous, so why don't we limit her influence to U.S. budgetary policy?"

The problem is evidence of Greene's madness, not the fact that she's been assigned to two committees instead of one. McCarthy's offer reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the entire fiasco.

For another, the House Republican leader has already written a blueprint on how to handle situations like these. Two years ago, McCarthy expressed disgust with then-Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), stripped him of his committee assignments, rendered him irrelevant, and watched the Iowan's career evaporate soon after.

McCarthy could do the exact same thing now, but for reasons he hasn't explained, the GOP leader doesn't want to.

The result is a scenario that does his own members no favors: a likely vote on the House floor on whether to reward or punish Greene's extremism. It's a vote that obviously makes many House Republicans uncomfortable or McCarthy wouldn't be exploring alternatives.

The fact remains, however, that there are no alternatives, and Democrats have no intention -- or incentive -- to help the House GOP get out of its own mess.

* Update: As expected, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) talked to McCarthy and told him the GOP offer wouldn't work. The Maryland Democrat added, "The Rules Committee will meet this afternoon, and the House will vote on the resolution tomorrow."

Republican leaders could still act on their own, derailing tomorrow's vote, but it's not at all clear they're prepared to take any meaningful steps.