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Will Kevin McCarthy Ever Again Stand Up to the White Nationalists in his GOP Caucus?

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Answer: Not as long as he is a “wholly owned subsidiary” of Marjorie Taylor Greene

Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy claimed in 2021 the GOP was not the party of “nativist dog whistles.” He’s right — it’s not a dog whistle; today, it’s a bullhorn. From members of GOP House leadership on down, House Republicans have spewed the kind of nativist rhetoric and conspiracy theories that were once confined to the darkest and most dangerous corners of the internet. 

But even as we’ve seen a number of deadly domestic terror attacks tied to this type of extremism in the past few years, McCarthy has done far worse than simply ignore the vile rhetoric of his members. He’s actually turned the gavel over to them.

Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene has emerged as one of the most extreme members of Congress. She’s not just a QAnon conspiracy theorist supporter and virulently racist and anti-Semitic lawmaker who won the support of a former KKK leader, she is one of the worst pushers of “invasion” and replacement theories tied to terror attacks like El Paso and Buffalo. Greene was removed from her committee assignments in 2021, following social media posts that in part supported political violence against Democrats. 

But in his desire for the Speakership, McCarthy pledged to return Greene’s committee assignments if Republicans took back the House, saying she may even “have better committee assignments.” He was right again. Not only did McCarthy restore her to committees, Greene is effectively in charge of the GOP caucus, laying down the law during debt ceiling negotiations and threatening that any Republican who voted for a clean increase would face electoral repercussions. 

“Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is a wholly owned subsidiary of Greene,” one USA Today opinion piece said.

Arizona’s Paul Gosar was similarly removed from committees for his endorsement of political violence, and became the first federal lawmaker to be censured in over a decade. But like Greene, Gosar was also reinstated by McCarthy, and has since used his prominent position on a House committee to continue amplifying dangerous “invasion” and replacement theory rhetoric. Since then, he’s managed to go even further, no small feat for someone as extreme as Gosar.

Ahead of the Biden administration’s lifting of the anti-asylum Title 42 order this week, Gosar tweeted a message “amplifying the great replacement conspiracy theory & all but explicitly calling for mass racist political violence,” America’s Voice Political Director Zachary Mueller said. In his tweet, Gosar falsely claimed that “America is under a planned and sustained invasion – we must act accordingly.” This explicit call for violence comes as eight migrants were horrifically killed by a speeding driver in Texas this past weekend, yet we’ve heard nothing from McCarthy pushing back on this.

The stark reality is that these members are not outliers. New York’s Elise Stefanik, the number three member in the Republican House, echoed replacement theory that would then be cited by a racist shooter who targeted her state. Stefanik was lambasted — not by McCarthy, but instead by the major regional paper Albany Times Union, which said that “[i]f there’s anything that needs replacing in this country — and in the Republican party — it’s the hateful rhetoric that Ms. Stefanik and far too many of her colleagues so shamelessly spew.” Too bad McCarthy didn’t feel the same.

The question is why this hate-filled rhetoric is allowed now. McCarthy rejected it once before. When former Republican Congressman Steve King wondered aloud what was so offensive about the term “white supremacist,” McCarthy removed King from committees, saying this is “not the party of Lincoln and it’s definitely not American.” As we’ve questioned before, what’s changed since then, Mr. Speaker?

It hasn’t been just us raising the alarm about the rising tide of extremism within the GOP. In a letter to House Oversight Republicans earlier this year, Democrat Jamie Raskin warned “such language borrows from the ‘Great Replacement’ theory, the central dogma of contemporary white supremacy that has been repeatedly invoked by white nationalists to justify violent acts of domestic terrorism,” a March 2023 letter said.

“If Committee Republicans intend to continue examining the southern border and related policies, it is imperative for every member of this Committee to make clear to the American people that we speak with one voice to reject dangerous conspiracy theories and racist and antisemitic ideology in our Committee’s deliberations and decision-making,” Raskin continued. “I feel certain—and I fervently hope—that you agree.” McCarthy will have to check in with Speaker Greene about that.