8 offenses House Republicans will let you get away with — and 1 they won't


Kevin McCarthy and GOP leadership have been lax in disciplining members who have made racist or white supremacist comments or have been in legal or ethical trouble.

Republicans are on track to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from her role as chair of the House Republican Conference on Wednesday after she voted in January to impeach Donald Trump and continued to criticize him for inciting the Jan. 6 riot by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol.

While House Republicans have been publicly supportive of Cheney's ouster, some Republican lawmakers and aides are privately griping about how House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has handled discipline within the party ranks.

They've made the point that McCarthy was quick to punish Cheney for daring to criticize Trump while letting the bad behavior of some House Republicans slide, which one unnamed GOP House member told Politico amounts to "weak leadership."

A look at how McCarthy and GOP leadership have handled transgressions on the part of its members shows that the party has been lax in disciplining members who have made racist or white supremacist comments or have been in legal or ethical trouble.

Here are eight instances in which House Republican leadership failed to punish members of its caucus.

Inciting insurrection

After Trump lied for months about voter fraud and a stolen 2020 election, culminating in his incitement of the violent and deadly insurrection by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, just 10 House Republicans voted to impeach him.

Instead, 147 Republican members of Congress, including McCarthy himself, voted to overturn Trump's loss after the pro-Trump mob forced its way into the Capitol, leading to five deaths and more than 100 injured law enforcement officers.

Republicans who used the same kind of violent rhetoric as Trump, urging his supporters to "fight" and "stop the steal," did not receive any punishment for their behavior.

Rather, Cheney and the nine other House Republicans who voted to impeach have been censured by their state and local Republican parties.

Alleged child sex trafficking

It's been more than a month since the New York Times broke the news that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is under federal investigation for possibly violating sex trafficking laws after he allegedly had a sexual relationship with an underage girl whom he paid to travel with him.

Since that news broke, there have been more reports of alleged misbehavior from Gaetz, including drug use and inappropriate conduct on the House floor, reportedly showing nude photos to other lawmakers of a woman he claimed to have had sex with.

The House Ethics Committee is investigating Gaetz, but the allegations have not led to any repercussions from House Republican leadership.

While Gaetz has yet to be charged with any crimes, Democratic lawmakers have said that his being under federal investigation raises questions about whether he could fairly serve as a member of the House Judiciary Committee. The committee has oversight over the Department of Justice, which is running the Gaetz probe.

Democratic lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have called for Gaetz to be removed from the committee while the investigation takes place. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) said in April, "Matt Gaetz is entitled to the presumption of innocence, but he is not entitled to sit on the House Judiciary Committee. That is an honor and a privilege. Leader Kevin McCarthy must remove Matt Gaetz from the committee immediately."

Supporting violence against fellow members

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has been a problem for Republicans since before she was sworn in as a congresswoman.

She had made numerous racist, antisemitic, and Islamophobic comments, and expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, which the FBI now deems a domestic terror threat.

Republicans condemned those comments when she was running, but after her election, McCarthy urged people to give Greene an "opportunity" to serve before judging her.

After she was sworn in, more of her offensive behavior came to light, including that she "liked" Facebook posts that called for violence against Pelosi. She also bullied the transgender daughter of a fellow House member.

In response, Democrats introduced a resolution to remove Greene from her committee assignments, a common punishment for members of Congress who violate ethics rules or find themselves in legal trouble.

Just 11 Republicans voted in favor of the resolution.

Meanwhile, Greene's efforts to halt business by forcing numerous motions to adjourn have also led to frustration on the part of her fellow GOP lawmakers.

McCarthy has yet to punish Greene for that, either.

Speaking at a white nationalist conference

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) gave a speech in March at the America First Political Action Conference, an event organized by white supremacist Nick Fuentes, HuffPost reported.

Fuentes, a Holocaust denier and racist who once said of segregation, "Enough with the Jim Crow stuff. Who cares? 'Oh, I had to drink out of a different water fountain.' Big f—ing deal."

House Republicans did not punish Gosar for attending the event.

Lying in order to vote by proxy

During the pandemic, House Democrats authorized the use of proxy voting to allow members to avoid cross-country travel and possible spread of the coronavirus.

In February, several GOP members signed statements to the House clerk saying they were going to utilize proxy voting because they were "unable to physically attend proceedings in the House Chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency."

The members in fact did not stay home: Reps. Jim Banks (IN), Lauren Boebert (CO), Ted Budd (NC), Madison Cawthorn (NC), Gaetz, Gosar, Mark Green (TN), Darrell Issa (CA), Ronny Jackson (TX), Mike Kelly (PA), Ralph Norman (SC), Devin Nunes (CA), and Greg Steube (FL) attended the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida.

None of them were punished for lying to the clerk of the House.

Cheney told CNN in response, "No member should be filing false statements. When you get into a situation where members are signing letters, no matter if they're Republicans or Democrats, saying that they can't be here in person because of the public health emergency and then going someplace else, I think that raises very serious questions and I think it's an issue that has got to be addressed."

Praising Adolf Hitler

On Jan. 5, one day before the insurrection at the Capitol, Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL) praised Adolf Hitler during a pro-Trump rally.

"If we win a few elections, we're still going to be losing unless we win the hearts and minds of our children. This is the battle," Miller said. "Hitler was right on one thing. He said, 'Whoever has the youth has the future.'"

Miller wasn't punished for her comments. A month later, McCarthy tweeted a video about Miller with the comment, "Meet @repmarymiller. You'll find her wrangling cattle in the morning, and 17 grandkids in the evening."

Spending years supporting white supremacy

It took Republicans nearly a decade to finally punish ex-Rep. Steve King (R-IA) for his years of racist and white supremacist statements.

He falsely accused undocumented immigrants of being drug mules who have "calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."

He claimed white people have contributed more to civilization than nonwhites, and tweeted in 2017, "Diversity is not our strength. Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, 'Mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one.'"

It wasn't until 2019, when it became clear King was a political liability for the party, that Republicans finally stripped him of his committee assignments as punishment for saying white supremacy is not offensive. He was defeated in a GOP primary for his seat in 2020.

Body-slamming a reporter

In 2017, when he was running in a special election for Montana's at-large House seat, Greg Gianforte allegedly body-slammed reporter Ben Jacobs when he asked a question Gianforte didn't like about a House GOP health care plan.

Gianforte was not punished for his behavior.

He went on to win the special election in 2017 and reelection in 2018. In 2020, Montana voters once again rewarded Gianforte by electing him governor.

Although they do not punish their own for bad behavior, Republicans continue to demand that Democrat leaders reprimand members of their own party.

Republicans, including Cheney, demanded in December 2020 that Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) be removed from the House Intelligence Committee after he unwittingly had contact with an alleged Chinese spy, even though Swalwell ceased contact with the woman once he was notified about who she was.

Pelosi stood behind Swalwell, accusing McCarthy of using the issue as a way to "deflect attention from the fact that he has QAnon in his delegation over there."

McCarthy tried to get the House to punish Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), accusing her of inciting violence when she called for protests if white former police officer Derek Chauvin wasn't convicted in the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in Minneapolis a year ago.

The effort to censure Waters failed as the House voted 216-210 not to approve McCarthy's resolution.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.