Photo Courtesy of ABC
By Chris Carey
Days into the 117th Congress, Donald Trump’s tangible effect on the future of the Republican Party was tested. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA-14), a far-right conspiracy theorist and freshman member of Congress, and Liz Cheney (R-WY), Chairwoman of the Republican Caucus and #3 Republican in the House faced challenges to their authority and jobs in a splintered Republican Party.
On Thursday, February 4, the House voted 230 – 199 to strip Rep. Greene of her committee assignments, an act that in the past has been a response to illegal or otherwise heinous behavior. This stripping was due to Greene’s history of inflammatory comments and her support for Q-Anon conspiracy theories. Eleven Republicans joined the Democrats in voting to remove her from Committee.
Rep. Jahana Hayes (CT-5), whose district includes the Sandy Hook Elementary School that saw a horrific shooting in 2012 resulting in 26 deaths, including 20 children, commented on Rep. Greene’s committee stripping.
“A week ago when [I] drafted the letter asking that Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene not be seated on the Education and Labor Committee, I wasn’t even sure it would work. I said, ‘I don’t know what I can do, but I have to do something,’” she said
One of Rep. Greene’s more controversial areas of interest is her belief that school shootings such as Sandy Hook are staged so that Democrats can pass legislation on gun laws more easily.
Rep. Cheney argued that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution. I will vote to impeach the president.”
Stating this before the day of debate on impeachment allowed many House Democrats to quote her which garnered some disdain from a sizable contingency of House Republicans that led a vote against her keeping her Chair. In the end, by a margin of 145-61 by secret ballot, Cheney kept her seat.
What can these two events, one internally in the party and the other in the House, as a whole tell us about the current state of the party?
Firstly, the fact that substantially fewer Republicans were willing to strip Rep. Greene of her committee seats shows that although there is some division regarding the future direction of the party, there is not so much division that Republicans were comfortable taking a tangible step to condemn her words. House Minority Leader McCarthy (CA-23) was quick to speak out against her, but declined to take any concrete action to discipline her.
Secondly, the inner division within the Republican House Members over the Cheney vote shows that even of those elected, many would rather continue supporting the rhetoric and style of President Trump than returning to the classical conservatism Cheney represents. Her primary opponents and the growing movement against her within the GOP demonstrate that even a vote of conscience with the weighing of the evidence is grounds for rebuke if against Trump.
In all, this is only the beginning. Republicans will continue to hash out their differences both behind closed doors and at the ballot box as the future of the party is called more and more into question.