How Marjorie Taylor Greene Could Be Expelled From Congress

A petition calling for Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to be expelled from the House has now collected more than 100,000 signatures following her comments comparing COVID-19 safety measures to the Holocaust.

Greene, a Republican who represents Georgia's 14th congressional district, has been rebuked by some party colleagues, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Both the House and Senate have the authority to expel a member but the power has rarely been used, with Congress often opting for censure or reprimand instead.

Article 1, Section 5, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution states: "Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member."

The Constitution does not provide further details and disciplinary measures have been guided by historic practice.

A 2018 report by the Congressional Research Service discussed the history of expulsion and highlighted the reasons members had been removed from Congress.

"In total, 20 Members of Congress have been actually expelled from their
respective bodies—5 in the House and 15 in the Senate," the CRS reported. Seventeen of those expulsions, including three in the House, took place in 1861-62 and were related to support for the Confederacy.

"While the grounds for these expulsions may illustrate the potential bases upon which the House or Senate may decide to expel a Member, as historical practice, they are not necessarily the exclusive grounds for expulsion. The grounds upon which the power may be exercised are left to the discretion of the respective bodies of Congress, though legal commentary indicates that the bodies should act judiciously in exercising that power," the report stated.

The expulsion process begins with a House resolution, which may direct a House committee to examine the matter. This is usually the House Committee on Ethics, formerly known as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez, a Democrat from California, introduced a motion to expel Greene in March. However, it was not voted on.

"Our resolution has been introduced but it has not been voted on. As the resolution is privileged in nature, Congressman Gomez has the right to force a vote on this legislation at any moment," his office told Newsweek on Thursday.

"A resolution of expulsion requires the support of two-thirds of those Members present and voting. An amendment proposing expulsion may be agreed to by a majority vote; but, on the proposition as amended, a two-thirds vote is required," according to a U.S. Government Publishing Office report.

If it is directed to investigate, the Ethics Committee may ask members of the House to provide information about the alleged misconduct or undertake an investigation before making a recommendation.

However, given the two-thirds requirement, it seems extremely unlikely that Greene could be expelled even if the Ethics Committee takes up the question. Thomas Gift, founding director of University College London's Center on U.S. Politics, told Newsweek that GOP votes for her removal would not be forthcoming.

"The chances of Republicans expelling Marjorie Taylor Greene from their party's conference are almost nonexistent," Gift said.

"There's no doubt that many within the GOP view her as a liability. However, there are plenty of others—particularly Trump supporters—who've been all too willing to look the other way, or even root her on, as she spouts unhinged conspiracy theories and other unconscionable opinions.

"If there's one lesson we've learned from the Trump years, it's that most Republican lawmakers are too timid to enforce discipline within their ranks. A two-thirds vote …seems much too high for Republicans to clear."

The House is currently made up of 219 Democrats and 211 Republicans, with five seats vacant. In the unlikely event that Greene is expelled, she would still be able to stand in the special election that would follow—and Georgia's 14th district is reliably Republican.

The last time a House member was expelled was in 2002, when Ohio Democrat James Traficant was removed by a vote of 420 to 1. He had been convicted on 10 felony counts including racketeering and bribery.

When contacted by Newsweek on Thursday, Greene's office pointed to a statement she issued on May 25, accusing the media of a "cover up of Democrat antisemitism."

"The Democrats are the party of division, hate, critical race theory (pure racism), discrimination, totalitarianism, socialism, globalism, gender destruction, BDS [the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement], defunding our police, and ANTIFA / BLM terrorists," the statement said.

"I'm sorry some of my words make people uncomfortable, but this is what the American left is all about," the statement went on. "And they are America last in every single way."

Updates 5/27/21 10:40a.m. ET: This article was updated to say that Rep. Jimmy Gomez' expulsion motion has not been voted on in the House and to add a comment from his office. 9.10 a.m. ET: This article was updated to add a response from Marjorie Taylor Greene's office.

Marjorie Taylor Green Speaks the U.S. Capitol
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) speaks during a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol on February 5. A petition calling for her expulsion has more than 100,000 signatures. Drew Angerer/Getty Images