House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is facing calls to boot Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) out of the GOP conference for her remarks comparing COVID-19 mask and vaccine rules to the genocide of 6 million Jews during World War II.
“Just stop. This is demented and dangerous. There is no comparison,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) tweeted at Greene Tuesday after she doubled down on her Holocaust comparison.
“I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: while we cannot stop her from calling herself a Republican, we can and should refuse to let her caucus with the House GOP.”
On Tuesday, top House and Senate leaders took the rare step of rebuking Greene for comparing comparing mask mandates and vaccine passports to the Holocaust after it became clear the headline-grabbing loyalist to former President Trump was not going to back down or apologize.
But there is no indication that McCarthy and his leadership team intend to take any action against Greene other than condemn her remarks.
McCarthy was the only leader to call out Greene by name, declaring that “Marjorie is wrong” and labeling her Holocaust comparison “appalling.”
A spokeswoman for Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said he condemned such a comparison.
And Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the new chair of the 211-member GOP conference who replaced the booted Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) just weeks ago, said “equating mask wearing and vaccines to the Holocaust belittles the most significant human atrocities ever committed.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also weighed in, blasting her remarks as “outrageous” and “reprehensible.”
Yet none of the GOP leaders responded to questions Tuesday about whether Greene should be ousted from the House Republican Conference, even after a new video surfaced showing Greene at a public meeting in 2020 saying she would not take down a statue of Adolf Hitler.
GOP lawmakers say Greene has placed McCarthy in an impossible situation. She’s become a huge distraction for Republicans and put party leaders on defense at a time they are trying to paint Democrats as weak on Israel after last week’s Middle East conflict.
At the same time, McCarthy, who has made Trump part of the GOP’s strategy to win back the House next year, is reluctant to directly take on Greene, one of Trump’s most vocal allies on Capitol Hill; Trump has previously defended and met with her at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
Because of those dynamics and Trump’s enormous popularity with the GOP base, it’s unlikely McCarthy could successfully orchestrate her ouster. Internal GOP rules say that two-thirds of the entire membership is needed to expel a lawmaker from the GOP conference.
“We don’t have the votes,” said one House Republican who would like to see her removed. “Without leadership — and the GOP conference has none across the board — she will continue to be a spectacle that gets clicks and the political industrial complex will make millions off of her."
“There is no incentive to shut her down or kick her out. She’s being used, and her and their egos love it.”
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) ripped her fellow freshman classmate, tweeting a flowchart at Greene with advice that no one should ever compare something to the Holocaust.
But Mace said in a statement that she would not vote to remove Greene from the conference.
“Everyone has the right to their free speech, no matter how horrible many of us may find what they say. Voters decide who goes to Congress — not other members or the media,” Mace said. “I condemned remarks from [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)] comparing the border to concentration camps, so I believe it’s important to be consistent and to call out ignorant remarks like this regardless of the party of the person who says them."
McCarthy and Republicans have been in this situation before. Just last month, McCarthy and his team were forced to distance themselves from Greene after reports she was planning to launch an America First Caucus that would defend “Anglo-Saxon political traditions" and European architecture. She quickly scrapped the idea.
And in February, Greene — just a month on the job — came under fire after her old social media posts showed she had advocated violence against Democratic leaders and promoted a conspiracy theory that a space laser controlled by a wealthy Jewish family started the 2018 California wildfires.
McCarthy condemned her positions but resisted calls to boot Greene off of two committees, Education and Budget. He instead let Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Democrats stage a vote to successfully oust her from the committees, then lambasted the effort as a “partisan power grab” even as 11 Republicans crossed the aisle and voted with Democrats.
It’s unclear what, if anything, Pelosi will do in response to this latest Greene controversy. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) said Tuesday he is drafting a resolution to censure Greene over her Holocaust comments, though Pelosi has previously dismissed House censure as a “little slap on the wrist” that has no teeth.
When reporters caught up with Pelosi in the Capitol Tuesday, she called Greene’s remarks “so beyond reprehensible that, it's, I mean — it has no place in our country.”
Asked if she would hold a vote to censure Greene or expel her from Congress, Pelosi replied: “I think that she should stop talking.”
At the same time, the more Greene talks, the more it divides House Republicans and the bigger the headaches it creates for Pelosi’s rival, McCarthy.
Under attack from all sides, Greene is refusing to back down.
She defended her comments, saying she was only comparing vaccination rules to the early actions of the Nazis.
Greene’s talk about Nazis and the Holocaust started last week during an appearance on the right-wing network Real America’s Voice. Greene ripped Pelosi for requiring masks on the House floor and saying she didn’t trust some Republicans who’ve claimed they’ve been vaccinated.
“You know, we can look back in a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star and they were definitely treated like second-class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany,” Greene said on the program. “And this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about.”