Dozens of U.S. House Democrats backed a resolution filed Friday to expel controversial U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from Congress, an extraordinary measure that’s only been successfully employed twice since the Civil War.
U.S. Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) filed the expulsion resolution, after introducing it in January. The text of the legislation is simple, noting that Greene, a Georgia Republican, is hereby “expelled from the House of Representatives.”
Rep. David J. Trone (D) is the only Marylander to have signed on to the resolution, according to a list of co-sponsors provided by Gomez’s office. The resolution has not yet been posted to the official congressional website.
In a floor speech, the California Democrat cited Greene’s role in inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and press reports that revealed that before being elected, Greene had expressed support online for violence against top Democrats, including former President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“I take no joy in introducing this resolution, but any member who incites political violence and threatens our lives must be expelled,” Gomez said.
The measure is unlikely to go any further, however.
An expulsion resolution requires a two-thirds majority in the House to pass, meaning it would need dozens of Republicans to sign on to be successful even if every Democrat supported it. And although Greene’s GOP colleagues have been griping about her use of procedural tactics to grind debate on the House floor to a halt, they are exceedingly unlikely to back a push to remove her from Congress.
Pelosi had driven efforts to strip Greene from her committee positions, a rare move the House approved last month. Yet even Pelosi, at her weekly press conference on Friday, said she’s lukewarm on expelling Greene.
“I’m not going to get into that,” Pelosi told reporters. “Members are very unhappy about what happened here and they can express themselves the way they do. What Mr. Gomez did is his own view. That is not a leadership position.”
For her part, Greene swatted away the effort, claiming Gomez and the 72 Democrats who cosponsored the measure are “radical socialists” and have “declared me Public Enemy Number One.”
When asked for further comment, her spokesman sent along another tweet in which Greene claimed Democrats are threatened by “strong Republican Women.” Greene has also tweeted that “Democrats are trying overturn the will of the People who voted” for both her and Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa, whose November election by six votes in the state’s 2nd congressional district is being challenged by Democrat Rita Hart.
Greene also insinuated that the effort was a conspiracy with social media giant Twitter after the platform suspended her account for 12 hours, a move Greene said she was told was an error.
Greene has also been fundraising off the expulsion effort, asking supporters to text a number and join her communications list. Her campaign sent out an email Thursday asking her supporters to donate $25 so she can have the “resources to defend myself in the public sphere.”
“I must be able to defend myself against these nasty smear tactics and show that you and I and the America First agenda are not going anywhere!,” the email read. “Make no mistake, the Radical Left, led by AOC and the Squad, are trying to remove me from office for defending President Trump. And as President Trump’s biggest supporter, I’ve become Enemy #1. But in reality, they’re not after me. They’re after you. I’m just in their way.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, and fellow Squad members Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota are indeed cosponsors of the legislation. However, the measure also has support from members across the ideological spectrum and at various levels of seniority in the Democratic caucus.
The sole fellow member of Greene’s Georgia delegation to co-sign her expulsion was Rep. Nikema Williams, a Democrat who joined Congress this year after the death of Rep. John Lewis of Georgia.
“Congresswoman Greene’s comments and actions are dangerous, unpatriotic, and a clear threat to every Member of Congress,” Williams said in January, after backing an effort to censure Greene. “It would be irresponsible for us to allow her to use the ‘People’s House’ as a platform to peddle discredited conspiracy theories that only fan the flames of hatred and violence.”
History of expulsion
Several members were expelled from Congress in 1861 and 1862 at the outbreak of the Civil War for supporting the Confederacy and secession. However, since then, only two members of Congress have been successfully expelled, and both were given the boot for financial corruption.
The most recent was Rep. Jim Traficant of Ohio, who was expelled in 2002 after being indicted on several counts, including tax evasion, racketeering and bribery. He served seven years in prison, and passed away in 2014, years after his release.
Before that, Rep. Michael Myers of Pennsylvania was the sole post-Civil War expulsion, after being caught on videotape accepting a $50,000 bribe as part of the Abscam FBI sting operation in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He served three years in prison.
The only expulsion before the Civil War happened in 1797, when Sen. William Blount of Tennessee was expelled for treason for helping the British in a ploy to conquer parts of Florida and Louisiana to keep them from French conquest.
Daniel Newhauser is a Washington-based freelance reporter.
(Disclosure: The David and June Trone Family Foundation has in past years been a financial supporter of Maryland Matters.)