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Republican leaders eye rewards for Gosar, Greene in next Congress

In February, Kevin McCarthy was prepared to punish Marjorie Taylor Greene by stripping her of a committee assignment. Now, he's ready to reward her.

Nearly 10 months later, it's easy to forget why Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was stripped of her committee assignments in the first place.

The Georgia Republican was already well known for supporting the deranged QAnon conspiracy theory, and that alone should've been a disqualifier in a mature political party in a healthy democracy. But just a month into her congressional career, an avalanche of new 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 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."

By this point, House Republicans had already assigned Greene to the Budget and Education committees. In the aftermath of the revelations, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy reportedly proposed removing the extremist lawmaker from one of the panels. For Democrats, this wasn't nearly good enough: They voted to remove Greene from both.

Ten months later, House Democrats stripped Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of his committee assignments for also crossing a line with violent speech: The Arizonan released an animated video that depicted him killing one of his Democratic colleagues and attacking President Joe Biden.

Yesterday, as Talking Points Memo reported, McCarthy looked ahead to his future plans for both lawmakers — whom he apparently intends to reward.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Thursday promised to restore Reps. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Marjorie Taylor Greene's (R-GA) committee assignments if Republicans take back the majority in next year's midterm elections. "They'll have committees," McCarthy said during a press conference, during which he was asked whether Gosar and Greene could get their seats back if the GOP retakes the majority.

The GOP leader added that Gosar and Greene might very well end up with "better committee assignments." The right-wing Georgian echoed the assertion, boasting that under a Republican majority, she's "guaranteed" to get "better" committee assignments.

McCarthy went on to try to draw parallels between Gosar, Greene, and several House Democrats, though none of the Democrats he mentioned by name have ever encouraged, promoted, or condoned violence, making the comparison foolish.

Time will tell whether Republican leaders are able to deliver these rewards, but it's McCarthy's shift that warrants additional scrutiny. As 2021 got underway, the minority leader was comfortable describing Greene's crackpot ideas as "deeply disturbing" and worthy of removal from the House Education Committee.

As 2021 nears its end, McCarthy is prepared to give Greene "better" committee assignments than she had in January.

In other words, the House's top Republican went from being willing to punish Greene for her radicalism to being ready to reward her if given the opportunity.

What changed between February and November? McCarthy, who saw John Boehner's career as Speaker end because of distrust from the far-right, appears willing to throw propriety and decency out the window in order to advance his ambitions.

It's like watching a Republican primary unfold: McCarthy feels the need to stay on the base's good side. As far as the Californian is concerned, the Speaker's gavel is in sight, and if that means tolerating members who promote and condone political violence, so be it.