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WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The U.S. House of Representatives voted to strip Marjorie Taylor Greene of two high-profile committee assignments on Thursday, punishing the Republican congresswoman for incendiary remarks that included support for violence against Democrats.
In a test of unity for a House Republican caucus riven by division, nearly 95 percent of Republicans voted to oppose the punishment after Greene expressed regret for remarks made before she entered office but failed to apologize.
Eleven Republicans joined Democrats in a 230-199 vote to approve the Democratic-backed resolution, which stripped Greene of her seats on the House Budget Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee.
"I have never encountered a situation like the one before us now, where a member has made such vile and hurtful statements, engaged in the harassment of colleagues and expressed support for political violence," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said before the vote.
"This is not about party. It's about whether or not you will vote for decency and truth."
Hoyer walked across the House floor, holding up a campaign photo showing Greene with an assault rifle next to three Democratic congresswomen — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar — and calling her their "worst nightmare."
The vote to punish Greene, a first-term lawmaker from Georgia and ally of former President Donald Trump, came a day after the chamber's Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, opted not to reprimand her.
Republicans mainly attacked the resolution as a "partisan power grab" by Democrats and warned that punishing lawmakers for statements made before they entered office would set a dangerous House precedent.
McCarthy accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of hypocrisy for not taking similar action against Democrats for controversial remarks and warned that Thursday's vote would rebound on Democrats once Republicans retake the majority.
"You'll regret this," McCarthy said. "If people are held to what they have said prior to even being in this House, if the majority gets to decide who sits on ... committees, I hope you keep that standard, because we have a long list."
'Allowed to believe things'
Hours before the vote, Greene delivered a speech on the House floor disavowing some of her previous statements.
"These were words of the past and these things do not represent me, they do not represent my (congressional) district and they do not represent my values," Greene said.
"I was allowed to believe things that weren't true, and I would ask questions about them and talk about them. And that is absolutely what I regret," Greene added.
Before taking office last month, Greene voiced support for an array of unfounded conspiracy theories including the "QAnon" one that holds that elite Democrats are part of a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles and cannibals. According to CNN, Greene expressed support online for executing prominent Democrats including Pelosi.
Greene, 46, who said she was inspired to enter politics by Trump's leadership, embraced his false claim that he won the Nov. 3 election, alleged that deadly U.S. school shootings were staged, suggested a space laser was used to deliberately start a California wildfire and questioned whether a plane struck the Pentagon in the 2001 attacks on the United States.
In her speech, Greene disavowed belief in the QAnon conspiracy theory, acknowledged that school shootings really happened and that the Sept. 11 attacks did occur.
Greene also assailed the media, asking: "Will we allow the media that is just as guilty as QAnon of presenting truth and lies to divide us?"
The House Republican caucus on Wednesday allowed Greene to go unpunished but also turned back a bid by lawmakers on the right to oust establishment Republican Liz Cheney from the party's House leadership over her Jan. 13 vote to impeach Trump on a charge of inciting insurrection before a mob of his supporters attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6.
The political atmosphere in Congress has been acrimonious since that rampage, in which some Trump supporters threatened to kill Democratic lawmakers including Pelosi, as well as Republican then-Vice President Mike Pence.
In 2019, Republican congressman Steve King was stripped of his House committee assignments after he questioned during a media interview why white supremacy is considered offensive. He is no longer in Congress.
(Reporting by David Morgan and Susan Heavey; Editing by Will Dunham, Scott Malone and Peter Cooney)