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Republican leaders offer incomplete rebukes of Greene and Gosar

GOP leaders have criticized Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar for speaking at a white nationalist event. Is this the first step or the last?

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Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar were already recognized as two of Congress’ most radical members, though the right-wing pair went even further over the weekend, appearing at a white nationalist event in Orlando. As we discussed, the question was not why the GOP lawmakers attended the event; the question was what their party intended to do about it.

On Saturday, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel told reporters, “White supremacy, neo-Nazism, hate speech and bigotry are disgusting and do not have a home in the Republican Party.” It was a welcome sentiment, though it was notable that the RNC leader did not criticize Gosar or Greene by name.

Yesterday, as NBC News reported, party leaders on Capitol Hill went further.

GOP leaders in the House and the Senate on Monday denounced a pair of far-right Trump allies — Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. — for speaking at a gathering of white nationalists in Florida over the weekend.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell helped get the ball rolling yesterday, insisting in a written statement, “There’s no place in the Republican Party for white supremacists or anti-Semitism.” Like McDaniel, the Kentucky senator did not reference Greene or Gosar by name.

Similarly, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, who has a difficult history of his own with race, including having spoken in 2002 at a white supremacist event, echoed McConnell. “There’s no place in America for anti-Semitism, for hate speech and thought that any race is purer than any other,” the Louisianan told NBC News.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, meanwhile, told CNN and Punchbowl News that it was “appalling and wrong” for Gosar and Greene to attend the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC).

“There’s no place in our party for any of this,” the House GOP leader said. “The party should not be associated any time, any place with somebody who is anti-Semitic.... This is unacceptable.”

McCarthy added that he plans to discuss the matter with the right-wing duo this week.

At first blush, all of this is encouraging. It was an open question yesterday whether Republicans would simply shrug with indifference in response to this weekend’s developments, so it was heartening to see the party take a step in a responsible direction.

But it was only a step.

This is not a situation in which McCarthy will make the questions go away by giving his members a stern talking to. This is, after all, the same House Republican leader who vowed in November to reward Greene and Gosar with new committee assignments in the new Congress, if there’s a GOP majority in the chamber.

With this in mind, what Republican leaders intend to do is more important than what they say.

The party has plenty of options. McCarthy & Co. could, for example, kick Gosar and Greene out of the GOP conference. The party could also announce that it will not support the members’ re-election campaigns — akin to what the party has already done to Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, because of their efforts to help lead the investigation into the Jan. 6 attack.

McCarthy could even announce that he’s changed his mind about what he said four months ago, and he will no longer support giving Greene and Gosar committee assignments in the next Congress.

Are any of these options on the table for GOP leaders? If not, why not?