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House Votes To Remove Majorie Taylor Greene From Committees

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  • The House voted Thursday to remove Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga) from her committee assignments over offensive and violent statements she made and supported in the past.
  • This marks the first time in history that a majority party has voted to strip a member of the other party from their assignments. Usually, that decision is made by the leader of the party the lawmaker in question belongs to.
  • Democrats moved the motion to the floor after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca) denounced Greene’s recently uncovered remarks but refused to take action against her.
  • While some Republicans believe the vote sets a bad precedent for majority parties removing members of the minority from their committees, Democrats argued that it was necessary to show members their actions have consequences.

House Revokes Greene’s Committee Placements

After hours of debate Thursday, the House voted to remove Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga) from her assignments on the Budget Committee and the Education and Labor Committee for the “conduct she has exhibited.”

Greene made headlines last week after social media posts from 2018 and 2019 were brought to light showing the congresswoman endorsing calls to executive Democrats, promoting dangerous conspiracies, and making racist, anti-Semitic, or otherwise inflammatory remarks.

Greene’s removal marks the first time in history that a majority party has voted on a resolution to strip a member of the other party from their assignments. A decision like that is normally made by the leader of the party the representative is part of.

For example, in 2019, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca) removed then-Representative Steve King (R-Io) from his committees. That decision came after an interview where he questioned why the term “white supremacist” language was offensive.

However, after more than a week of intense pressure from Democrats, McCarthy refused to take action against Greene. In a statement Wednesday, the leader strongly denounced her remarks but also argued she should not face any consequences.

“Past comments from and endorsed by Marjorie Taylor Greene on school shootings, political violence, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories do not represent the values or beliefs of the House Republican Conference,” he said. “I condemn those comments unequivocally.”

McCarthy went on to claim that he “made this clear to Marjorie” when they met this week. He also argued that she “recognized this in our conversation.”

GOP Response

Greene has taken very little responsibility for her past remarks. While defending herself on the House floor Wednesday, she appeared to pass the blame for her belief in QAnon, saying she regretted that she “was allowed to believe things that weren’t true.” She also argued that “the media is just as guilty as QAnon for promoting lies.”

However, Greene did not apologize for promoting the conspiracies or for her other incendiary and violent remarks. Over the last week, the freshman lawmaker has been actively defiant towards the criticisms of her.

McCarthy, for his part, tried to accused Democrats of “taking the unprecedented step to further their partisan power grab.”

That point was also echoed by other Republicans, who claimed that this would set a bad precedent for majority parties removing members of the minority from their committees. Some even threatening to do the same to Democrats the next time Republicans took the chamber.

Democrats hit back by arguing that removing Greene from her committees was an important precedent to set.

“If that’s the precedent, that people are calling for the assassination of other members of this body, if that’s a disqualifier for serving on a committee, I’m all for it,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) who chairs the Rules Committee, which drafted and approved the resolution. “I’m fine with it and I can live with that. And boy, that shouldn’t even be controversial,” he added.

McGovern also noted that Greene has expressed little regret or willingness to change. He noted that she has been profiting off the scandal and pointing to a tweet where she said she raised over $175,000 and added: “we will not back down. We will never give up.”

An Identity Crisis for the Republican Party

The discussion over precedent, and what it means for the future of a party that has increasingly attracted far-right members, speaks to a much broader issue.

For a while now, Republicans have been struggling to balance the growing divisions in the party largely brought about by Trump and his supporters.

Many analysts would say that the election proved that at least a deciding majority of Republican voters do not support this growing trend towards extremism. However, the people at the top seem to think it is important to give these people a voice because they compose enough of the electorate that they need them to keep themselves in power.

At the same time, party leaders are also still trying not to alienate the largely suburban white voters who helped secure the Democratic takeover.

That balancing act was epitomized on Wednesday. In addition to refusing to take action against Greene, McCarthy also said he supported keeping Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy) in her leadership position after Trump loyalists moved to strip her of her title because she voted in favor of impeaching Trump.

Cheney ultimately came out victorious after a 145 to 61 secret ballot vote, but that is still almost 30% of all the 211 Republicans in the House. Right now, it is unclear how long McCarthy and his party will be able to walk this tightrope, or even if being so mixed will play well among both more moderate and far-right voters.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (The New York Times)

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Mississippi Asks Supreme Court To Overturn Roe v. Wade

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The Supreme Court’s decision to consider Mississippi’s restrictive abortion ban already has sweeping implications for the precedents set under the landmark reproductive rights ruling, but now the state is asking the high court to go even further.


Mississippi’s Abortion Case

Mississippi filed a brief Thursday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade when it hears the state’s 15-week abortion ban this fall.

After months of deliberation, the high court agreed in May to hear what will be the first abortion case the 6-to-3 conservative majority will decide.

Both a district judge and a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit had ruled that Mississippi could not enforce the 2018 law that banned nearly all abortions at 15 weeks with exceptions for only “severe fetal abnormality,” but not rape and incest.

If the Supreme Court upholds the Mississippi law, it would undo decades of precedent set under Roe in 1973 and upheld under Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, where the court respectively ruled and reaffirmed that states could not ban abortion before the fetus is “viable” and can live outside the womb, which is generally around 24 to 28 weeks.

When the justices decided to hear the case, they said they would specifically examine the question of whether “all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.”

Depending on the scope of their decision on the Mississippi law, the court’s ruling could allow other states to pass much more restrictive abortion bans without the risk of lower courts striking down those laws.

As a result, legal experts have said the case will represent the most significant ruling on reproductive rights since Casey nearly three decades ago, and the Thursday brief raises the stakes even more.

When Mississippi asked the justices to take up its case last June, the state’s attorney general, Lynn Fitch (R), explicitly stated that the petition’s questions “do not require the Court to overturn Roe or Casey.”

But that was before the court’s conservatives solidified their supermajority with the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett — who personally opposes abortion — following the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

New Filing Takes Aim at Roe

With the new filing, it appears that Fitch views the high court’s altered makeup as an opportunity to undermine the constitutional framework that has been in place for the better part of the last century.

“The Constitution’s text says nothing about abortion,” Fitch wrote in the brief, arguing that American society has changed so much that the previous rulings need to be reheard.

“Today, adoption is accessible and on a wide scale women attain both professional success and a rich family life, contraceptives are more available and effective, and scientific advances show that an unborn child has taken on the human form and features months before viability,” she added, claiming the power should be left to state lawmakers. 

“Roe and Casey shackle states to a view of the facts that is decades out of date,” she continued. “The national fever on abortion can break only when this Court returns abortion policy to the states.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents Mississippi’s sole abortion provider in the suit against the state’s law, painted Fitch’s effort as one that will have a chilling effect on abortion rights nationwide.

“Mississippi has stunningly asked the Supreme Court to overturn Roe and every other abortion rights decision in the last five decades,” Nancy Northup, the president and CEO of the group said in a statement Thursday. “Today’s brief reveals the extreme and regressive strategy, not just of this law, but of the avalanche of abortion bans and restrictions that are being passed across the country.”

The Supreme Court has not yet said exactly when during its fall term it will hear oral arguments on the Mississippi case, but a decision is expected to come down by next June or July, as is standard.

An anticipated ruling just months before the 2022 midterms will almost certainly position abortion as a top issue at the ballot box.

See what others are saying:  (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (Politico)

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Republicans Boycott Jan. 6 Committee After Pelosi Rejects Two of McCarthy’s Picks

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The House Minority Leader said that unless House Speaker Pelosi reinstated the two members, Republicans will launch their own investigation into the insurrection.


Pelosi Vetoes Republicans

Republicans are boycotting the select committee to investigate the insurrection after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) rejected two of the five GOP members Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) picked to serve on the panel Wednesday.

In a statement, Pelosi cited the “statements and actions” of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Oh.) and Jim Banks (R-In.), whose nominations she said she was opposing “with respect for the integrity of the investigation.”

Jordan and Banks — both staunch allies of former President Donald Trump — have helped propagate the previous leader’s false election claims, opposed efforts to investigate the insurrection, and voted not to certify the election for President Joe Biden. 

A senior Democratic aide also specifically told The Washington Post that Democrats did not want Jordan on the panel because he reportedly helped Trump strategized how to overturn the election and due to the fact he spoke to the then-president on Jan. 6, meaning there is a possibility he could be called to testify before the very same committee.

The aide also said that Democrats opposed Banks’ selection because of a statement he issued after McCarthy chose him.

In the statement, the representative compared the insurrection to the racial justice protests last summer, implied that the rioters were just normal American’s expressing their political views, and claimed the committee was a political ploy “to justify the Left’s authoritarian agenda.”

Notably, Pelosi did say she would accept McCarthy’s three other nominees — including Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Wi.), who also voted against certifying Biden’s win.

McCarthy Threatens Separate Investigation

McCarthy, however, refused to select new members, and instead opted to remove all his appointees from the would-be bipartisan committee.

In a statement condemning the move, the minority leader said that Pelosi’s action “represents an egregious abuse of power.” 

“Denying the voices of members who have served in the military and law enforcement, as well as leaders of standing committees, has made it undeniable that this panel has lost all legitimacy and credibility and shows the Speaker is more interested in playing politics than seeking the truth,” he said.

“Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republican nominees, Republicans will not be party to their sham process and will instead pursue our own investigation of the facts.”

Pelosi defended her decision during a press conference Thursday, where she said that Banks and Jordan were “ridiculous” choices for the panel. 

“When statements are ridiculous and fall into the realm of, ‘You must be kidding,’ there’s no way that they’re going to be on the committee,” she added.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CNBC)

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More Republican Are Pushing COVID Vaccinations, But the Party Remains Divided on Its Messaging

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The renewed effort to encourage vaccination comes as the surge in COVID cases caused by the delta variant continues to disproportionately impact Republican-led states with low vaccination rates.


GOP Leaders Ramps Up Vaccination Push

In recent days, more Republican leaders and prominent conservatives have ramped up efforts to encourage members of their party to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the U.S. continues to see massive surges from the delta variant.

Some, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), have been pushing Americans to get vaccinated for months — a call he reiterated again on Tuesday. Many others, however, have been reticent to do the same until recently.

Most notable on that list is Rep. Steve Scalise (La.), the no. 2 Republican in House leadership, who just got his first dose over the weekend after resisting vaccination, claiming he had antibodies from previously contracting COVID. Scalise explained he changed his mind because of delta and encouraged others to do the same.

“There shouldn’t be any hesitancy over whether or not it’s safe and effective,” he said.

The top leader is set to continue pushing that advice. Earlier this week, the GOP Doctors Caucus announced that it would hold a news conference Thursday alongside Scalise and the third-ranking House Republican, Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), to encourage vaccination.

Rank and File Republicans Continue To Cast Doubt, Spread Misinformation

There are still plenty of Republicans working to undermine the renewed push to get their party vaccinated.

While many have painted vaccination as a matter of freedom of choice, others have sought to downplay the virus. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose state currently accounts for 40% of all new COVID cases, dismissed the spikes as the result of a “seasonal virus” on Monday.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk — who has had COVID twice — echoed that in a statement to reporters on Tuesday, where he argued that COVID is just something everyone has to live with.

“This is something we deal with in our lives on a daily basis; ever since I’ve been born, there’s sicknesses, there’s flu, there’s different diseases,” he said.

Some members of the GOP have used their positions of power to actively fight against vaccination. That includes Sen. Ron Johnson (Wi.), who has openly said he is not vaccinated. He has also been widely condemned for promoting unproven treatments and false information about vaccines during interviews and congressional hearings.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), who has repeatedly refused to share her vaccination status, has also drawn ire for sharing misinformation and continually comparing COVID prevention efforts to the Holocaust.

Greene was temporarily suspended from Twitter earlier this week for sharing false information on Monday, but she continued to utilize her spotlight to spread misinformation about vaccine-related deaths and side effects during a press conference the following day.

Uphill Battle

While those who downplay the coronavirus and spread false information about vaccinations are certainly not representative of the entire Republican Party, they are some of the most visible.

Greene and many of her counterparts who push anti-vaccine narratives have frequently been accused of acting in inflammatory ways to get more press — a strategy that more often than not tends to work in their favor. 

As a result, Republicans who want to encourage people to get the jabs will have their work cut out for them. Even many of those who have not openly expressed skepticism themselves have still let it flourish in the party for so long by not publicly pushing back against claims from members who sow disinformation.

The GOP’s broader failure to unify around a singular message on vaccines shows clearly among the party’s base.

According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News, poll 86% of Democrats have received at least one shot, but just 45% of Republicans have done the same. While just 6% of Democrats say they are not likely to get the vaccine, 47% of Republicans said they probably will not, and 38% said they definitely will not. 

Meanwhile, Republican-led states with low vaccination rates are suffering the most from the new spike in cases and the rapid spread of the delta variant. 

Arkansas, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country at just 35%, is currently reporting the highest per-capita cases in the U.S. Hospitalizations have gone up 85% in the state in the last two weeks, placing some hospital systems on the brink of collapse — a problem also faced by parts of Missouri, which has the third-highest COVID cases nationwide.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (The Hill)

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