Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFord to bolster electric vehicle production in multi-billion dollar push On The Money — GOP blocks spending bill to kick off chaotic week in congress Overnight Health Care — Presented by Alrtia — Booster shots get bipartisan rollout MORE (R-Ky.) on Monday blasted Georgia GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s embrace of “loony lies and conspiracy theories” as a “cancer for the Republican Party.”
“Somebody who’s suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged, and that the Clintons crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality,” McConnell said in a statement first shared with The Hill. “This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our party.”
McConnell didn't mention Greene by name in his three-sentence statement, but his rare, scathing remarks about a freshman GOP lawmaker from the other chamber suggests he recognizes the potential damage her violent rhetoric and bizarre conspiracy theories could inflict on congressional Republicans as they try to take back both the House and Senate in next year’s midterms.
Greene responded on Twitter, writing that "the real cancer for the Republican Party is weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully."
The real cancer for the Republican Party is weak Republicans who only know how to lose gracefully.— Marjorie Taylor Greene (@mtgreenee) February 2, 2021
This is why we are losing our country.
Democrats are threatening to force a floor vote this week to oust the controversial Georgia Republican from the Education and Labor Committee and the Budget Committee if House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse GOP campaign arm ties vulnerable Democrats to Biden in new ads The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Fifth House Republican comes out in support of bipartisan infrastructure bill MORE (R-Calif.) does not remove her first.
McCarthy is set to meet with her in Washington as early as Tuesday. Some Republicans said they did not anticipate McCarthy booting her off the committees given that she has the backing of former President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE, who still holds enormous sway within the GOP.
But McConnell’s comments will up the pressure on McCarthy to act.
If McCarthy punts the issue to Democrats, it could force vulnerable House Republicans in swing districts to take a difficult vote.
“Of course she should be removed. While we can’t prevent her from calling herself a Republican, we can take a stand, and need to,” moderate GOP Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerCheney allies flock to her defense against Trump challenge The Memo: Trump's Arizona embarrassment sharpens questions for GOP The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble MORE (Ill.) told The Hill on Monday evening.
But others fear removing her will further divide the conference, which is already embroiled in a civil war on where to turn next in a post-Trump era.
"It remains to be seen how big of an issue she is long-term. She's had a noisy entrance, but it's unclear what she will be viewed as and whether she will even be known in the public psyche in November 2022. She's had a tough transition to Congress. I'm not sure we need to go to the wall on this right now,” one senior GOP lawmaker said.
“To quote Dean Wormer, we may have to put her on Double Secret Probation. ... She's been a member for 30 days. It's still a little early, and I don't blame Kevin for not clamping down on somebody at this point. I don't think you need to strip someone of their committees this early," the lawmaker added.
Greene’s mounting controversies have created headaches for top Republicans as Democrats look to brand her as the face of the GOP.
A supporter of the pro-Trump QAnon movement, Greene has supported Facebook posts calling for the execution of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiManchin cast doubt on deal this week for .5T spending bill Obama says US 'desperately needs' Biden legislation ahead of key votes Congress shows signs of movement on stalled Biden agenda MORE (D-Calif.) and other top Democrats; she has endorsed false and hurtful conspiracy theories that the 9/11 terrorist attacks and mass school shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Parkland, Fla., were hoaxes; and she has embraced another strange conspiracy theory that the 2018 California wildfires were sparked by a laser from space controlled by a powerful Jewish banking family.
Greene told conservative news outlet One America News (OAN) that she is slated to meet with the former president “soon,” adding that “he supports me 100 percent.”
Trump’s support of the firebrand freshman is not making GOP woes any easier.
Top Republicans including Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel have condemned her remarks.
"The comments that are being put forward by Marjorie Taylor Greene are atrocious,” she told The New York Times. “They need to be condemned. They are violent, they are inaccurate — they are very, very dangerous.”
Greene has been a concern for Republicans since entering the primary to replace former Rep. Tom GravesJohn (Tom) Thomas GravesGeorgia businesswoman launches primary challenge against Greene Lobbying world Greene's future on House committees in limbo after GOP meeting MORE (R-Ga.), with now-House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseFifth House Republican comes out in support of bipartisan infrastructure bill Democratic leaders racing toward Monday infrastructure vote House GOP to whip against bipartisan infrastructure bill MORE (R-La.) having backed her primary challenger, John Cowan.
In addition to coming out against Greene’s embrace of conspiracy theories, McConnell also voiced his support for House Republican Conference Chair Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyTrump-backed challenger to Cheney decried him as 'racist,' 'xenophobic' in 2016: report Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats stare down 'hell' week MORE (Wyo.), who has come under fire from conservatives following her vote to impeach Trump for inciting the deadly riot on Jan. 6.
"Liz Cheney is a leader with deep convictions and the courage to act on them," McConnell told CNN in a statement.
"She is an important leader in our party and in our nation. I am grateful for her service and look forward to continuing to work with her on the crucial issues facing our nation."
His comments come just days before the House GOP conference is slated to meet, where conservatives’ efforts to oust the Wyoming Republican from her leadership role are slated to be discussed.
Al Weaver contributed. Updated at 8:09 p.m.