When House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was struggling two weeks ago to secure his gavel, the California Republican was facing fierce resistance from his far-right flank. In the abstract, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene seemed like the sort of member who’d be among his opponents. The Georgia Republican is, after all, among the most radical extremists to serve on Capitol Hill in recent memory.
But as the fight dragged on, McCarthy enjoyed Greene’s steadfast support. The right-wing Georgian was, by all accounts, among the speaker’s most ardent champions.
This was not the result of a longstanding alliance between the two GOP lawmakers. On the contrary, it was a marriage of convenience: McCarthy needed Greene’s backing to advance his ambitions, and Greene needed McCarthy’s support to advance her ambitions.
The speaker got his gavel. Yesterday, as NBC News reported, Greene received the reward.
House Republicans have reinstated far-right Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona on committees again after Democrats stripped them of that privilege in 2021, multiple GOP sources said. The GOP Steering Committee, which doles out committee gavels and seats, voted to give Greene and Gosar spots on the Oversight and Accountability Committee, which plans to launch numerous investigations into President Joe Biden and his administration.
The slot on the House Oversight Committee wasn’t the congresswoman’s only prize: Republicans also handed Greene a seat on the powerful Homeland Security Committee, where the radical member will, among other things, deal with domestic security threats.
None of this comes as too big of a surprise. A year before the midterm elections, McCarthy insisted that if voters put the GOP in the majority, he’d make sure that members like Greene were rewarded. The Georgian boasted at the time that she’d “had conversations” and received “guarantees” about her future.
But the fact that this was predictable doesn’t make it any easier to defend.
Circling back to our earlier coverage, just a month into her congressional career, an avalanche of damaging revelations come to the fore: In late January, the public learned of Greene’s record of dismissing 9/11 and school massacres as hoaxes. And harassing at least one survivor of a school shooting. And expressing support for the QAnon delusion. And targeting religious minorities. And peddling bizarre claims about fire-causing space lasers.
Perhaps most importantly, in 2018 and 2019, the Georgia Republican expressed support for violence against Democratic elected officials. This included an instance in which she liked a social-media comment about removing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from office by way of “a bullet to the head.”
The revelations were so jarring that McCarthy — the minority leader at the time — reportedly proposed removing the extremist from one of her committee assignments. For Democrats, this wasn’t nearly good enough: They voted to remove Greene from both.
It was not an entirely partisan vote: When Democrats stripped her of her committee assignments, 11 House Republicans voted with the majority.
The congresswoman could’ve taken the opportunity to improve her credibility and stature. Instead, a year later, Greene spoke at a white nationalist event — a move McCarthy soon after condemned as “appalling“ and “unacceptable.”
Eleven months later, House Republicans thought it’d be a good idea to put Greene on the Homeland Security Committee.
As for Gosar, the right-wing Arizonan was stripped of his committee assignments after he released an animated video that depicted him killing one of his Democratic colleagues and attacking President Joe Biden. When Democrats acted against the congressman, two Republicans — Wyoming’s Liz Cheney and Illinois’ Adam Kinzinger — voted with the Democratic majority. (Cheney later lost in a GOP primary, while Kinzinger didn’t seek re-election.)
Yesterday, Gosar, whose controversial record also includes appearances at a white nationalist event, learned that he’ll serve on both the House Oversight Committee and the Natural Resources Committee, giving him renewed relevance and influence, too.
This may not have been what voters had in mind last fall, but it’s the result of electing a new GOP majority.