Republican leaders in Congress sought to distance themselves Tuesday from comments made by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., that compared House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's mask mandate in the House of Representatives to the killing of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust by Nazi Germany.
The controversy was just the latest in a series of incendiary comments from Greene that stretch back to before she was elected last year.
“Marjorie is wrong, and her intentional decision to compare the horrors of the Holocaust with wearing masks is appalling," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a statement. "The Holocaust is the greatest atrocity committed in history. The fact that this needs to be stated today is deeply troubling."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also expressed his displeasure with Greene's comparison. “Once again an outrageous and reprehensible comment," he told reporters on Capitol Hill.
In an interview last week with Christian Broadcasting Network anchor David Brody, Greene made headlines when she likened mask restrictions intended to stop the spread of COVID-19 to the systematic slaughter of Jews in Europe.
"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, and this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about," Greene told Brody.
With outrage over her remarks growing louder, Greene doubled down on the comparison in a Tuesday-morning tweet.
Her insistence left Republican leaders who have overlooked many of her more outrageous comments little choice other than to offer rebukes.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the second most powerful House Republican, said Scalise “does not agree with these comments and condemns these comparisons to the Holocaust."
Yet none of the GOP leaders who spoke out on Greene's latest transgression signaled any willingness to expel her from the Republican caucus, perhaps in part because she enjoys growing support from the party's pro-Trump base.
That fact has left a vocal minority of Republicans demanding action.
In February, Greene was stripped of her committee assignments for the threatening rhetoric she has often used against Democrats, including Pelosi. Last week she accosted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, demanding she debate her on the Green New Deal, and an unearthed video showed her harassing the Democratic lawmaker from New York on a 2019 trip to Washington.
While Greene regularly assails the congressional leadership of the Republican Party and its moderate members, McConnell and McCarthy know that the GOP has little chance of winning elections without the majority of the party that believes that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and that masks and vaccines should be viewed suspiciously.
It's that tension that helps explain why McCarthy and McConnell have both rejected the creation of a bipartisan commission to examine the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol by Trump's supporters, and why McCarthy has gone to visit Trump at Mar-a-Lago despite the fact that the former president continues to insist that his loss to President Biden was attributable to election fraud.
For her part, Greene seems intent on stepping over the line at every opportunity, which includes a Trump-like attempt to oust those from the Republican Party who reject the former president's baseless claims about the election.
“You know you’re a Democrat if your name is Liz Cheney,” Greene said Friday at an "America First" rally in Mesa, Ariz. “You know you might be a Democrat if your name is Adam Kinzinger. You know you might be a Democrat and have a serious problem in your primary election if you’re one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach President Trump.”
Even after McCarthy, McConnell and Scalise had criticized Greene for her Holocaust comparisons, she signaled she would not be backing down, and, in a tweet, insisted that the left's "attempts to shame, ostracize, and brand Americans who choose not to get vaccinated or wear a mask are reminiscent of the great tyrants of history who did the same to those who would not comply."
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