The House voted just moments ago to strip Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) of her committee assignments, after hours of debate on the House floor about whether the controversial, sometimes racist or violent things she said prior to becoming a member of Congress made her unfit to serve in committees, or as Republicans argued, whether the punishment amounted to an abuse of Democrats’ majority powers, and set a dangerous precedent in the House.
“I was allowed to believe things that weren’t true … and that is absolutely what I regret,” Greene said earlier Thursday on the House floor, referencing her support for the QAnon conspiracy theory. “Because if it weren’t for the Facebook posts and comments I liked in 2018, I wouldn’t be standing here today, and you couldn’t point a finger and accuse me of anything wrong.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) leaves after speaking on the House floor at the Capitol on Feb. 4. (Photo by Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)
But Democrats said she didn’t fully address her history of extreme views and advocacy for fringe causes and baseless claims — and pointed out she didn’t explicitly apologize in her House floor speech.
“Conspiracy theories and hate are malignant. They do not fade away. We must stand up to them and say enough,” said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.). “Ms. Greene has promised that she will never apologize.”
The final vote was 230-199, with 11 Republicans crossing party lines - not exactly a broad GOP rebuke, but enough for Democrats to call it bipartisan.
Biden signs more executive orders, but the pace is slowing on immigration
President Biden has promised quick action to reverse former president Donald Trump’s immigration policies, addressing what he called a set of “harmful and counterproductive” executive actions and the “moral and national shame” of Trump’s family separation policy.
But Biden admitted even before taking office that he’d have to move slower than he promised during the campaign. He had promised to eliminate on “Day 1” of his presidency the Migrant Protection Protocols, a program that requires asylum seekers to wait for their U.S. immigration hearings in Mexico.
“I will do what I said. It’s going to take — not Day 1 — it’s going to take probably the next six months to put that in place,” he said in December.
That’s a reflection of the reality Biden faces when it comes to immigration, particularly at the southern border: Change in immigration policy takes time, especially when trying to roll back hundreds of executive actions taken by the previous administration. And executive actions don’t amount to the comprehensive kind of immigration reform that could come out of actual legislation from Congress.
What Biden has signed so far
Biden signed several executive orders on immigration just hours after being inaugurated aimed at striking down Trump’s most controversial policies.
He directed the Secretary of Homeland Security to “take all actions he deems appropriate, consistent with applicable law, to preserve and fortify DACA,” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects about 800,000 “dreamers” who entered the U.S. illegally as children. The Trump administration tried to repeal the program, but met stiff legal challenges.
He also canceled Trump’s various travel bans, halted construction of Trump’s border wall, and revoked a Trump order that withheld federal funding from what are known as sanctuary cities.
But a set of executive orders Biden signed Tuesday amount to more of a cautious and thorough review of the remaining Trump policies, rather than rapid change.
Biden did create an interagency task force to reunite families separated by Trump’s “zero tolerance” border crackdown, but the rest of the orders amounted to a simple “review” of Trump policies like the Migrant Protection Protocols and the emergency pandemic measure that allows immigration officials to rapidly “expel” to Mexico those who cross the border illegally. He also plans to sign an executive order increasing the cap in refugees admitted to the U.S. each year, though it won’t kick in until the 12-month period starting Oct. 1. And while Biden has presented a framework for broader immigration reform he’d like to see enacted, he can’t get that framework passed through Congress without bipartisan support.
Why the slow roll?
Alex Nowrasteh, the director of immigration studies at the libertarian Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, says a lot of what’s going on at the border comes down to the public’s perception of how in control the government is. Nowrasteh says that the key for Biden is to enact policies that don’t produce chaos — or the perception of it — at the border.
“If Biden moves without caution, and unwinds his rules in a way that a million people show up at the border … then conservatives will latch onto that, moderates will be upset, and many people who are moderate democrats would be upset too,” Nowrasteh said in an interview Thursday. “The only way we’re going to get sustainable reform is if those perceptions change, and the government looks like it is in control.”
And the Biden administration is clearly worried about a border surge in the middle of a pandemic.
“We want to act swiftly, we want to act promptly, but we also need to make sure we are doing that through a strategic policy process,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
But Nowrasteh also says there are things Biden could do quickly that he is, for some reason, leaving on the table.
“Repealing Trump’s ban on most guest worker visas, and on green cards from abroad, that Trump put in place to protect the economy after the covid-19 recession — (Biden) could repeal those right now,” Nowrasteh said. “He hasn’t done that yet, and there’s no good reason not to.”
Ultimately, Nowrasteh says, real immigration reform won’t come quickly — especially with a new administration that, perhaps unlike Trump’s, is careful to work within established legal procedures when vetting new regulations.
“It’s going to take time, and most of what (Biden) is doing is establishing commissions to study how to do something good,” he said. “That might be necessary from and administrative state perspective, but it’s also very frustrating and very slow.”