Feb 4, 2021
Steny Hoyer House Floor Speech on Marjorie Taylor Greene Transcript
Rep. Steny Hoyer gave a speech on the House floor on February 4, 2021 leading up to the vote to remove Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee assignments. Read the full transcript of his remarks here.
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Steny Hoyer: (00:01)
Mr. Speaker, this is a sad day and a difficult day for the House of Representatives and for our country. I have had the great honor of serving this body for 40 years, and in that time 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. None of us should take any pleasure in what we must do today, but to do nothing would be an abdication of our moral responsibility to our colleagues, to the House, to our values, to the truth, and to our country.
Steny Hoyer: (01:07)
A great forbearer of legislators, Edmund Burke, famously declared, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Yesterday the Republican Conference chose to do nothing, so today the House must do something. I’ve heard some condemnation from across the aisle of the contents of Representative Greene’s statements. Some have condemned the white supremacy and antisemitic things she said and posted online. Some have condemned the falsehood she shared about 9/11 and the horrific school shootings. But I have heard little from Republicans about the horrific statements made by their colleague making threats of violence against Democratic-elected officials and her threatening conduct towards Representative Bush and others. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, there seems to be much silence when it comes to her incitement of political violence.
Steny Hoyer: (02:21)
In The Washington Post yesterday columnist Greg Sargent wrote and I quote, “Whatever happens to Greene,” Representative Greene, “The truth is unavoidable.” Republicans have yet to offer a clear and unambiguous declaration that political violence is unacceptable and has no place in their ranks. And I’ve heard too much about process and not enough about accountability. No member ought to be permitted to engage in the kind of behavior that Representative Greene has and face zero consequences. This vote can be a first step in correcting the era of those who so far have chosen to do nothing.
Steny Hoyer: (03:15)
A short while ago Representative Greene came to this floor to defend her indefensible conduct. I heard no apology. She claimed that we are here today only because of some things she wrote online before she ever ran for Congress, and if one’s moral slate is wiped clean when one becomes a candidate for office. Regardless, the conduct we are judging today continued to occur even after Representative Greene became a candidate and even after she was elected.
Steny Hoyer: (03:52)
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to look at this image. I heard about motherhood today. Two of those women between them have six children, they’re mothers. One of them does not have children and she’s come to this body asking for more housing for people, for more healthcare for people, for more income for people. How awful. And they’re not the Squad. They’re Ilhan, they’re Alexandria, and they’re Rashida. They’re people, they’re our colleagues. And yes, you may have disagreements but I don’t know anybody including Steve King who you precluded from going on committees for much less. And this is an AR-15 in the hands of Ms. Greene. This was on Facebook just a few months ago. That is a message of peace and reconciliation and peaceful democratic dialogue. The Squad’s worst enemy, AR-15 in hand’
Speaker 2: (06:21)
Sounds like the guns I fled.
Steny Hoyer: (06:24)
I have never, ever seen that before. Is this a precedent-setting event? It is. Because the conduct, the tweeting, the QAnon association, I heard just about QAnon, I learned more. AR-15, Squad’s worst nightmare. Is that what was intended to do? That each one of these ladies would have a nightmare about somebody with a gun. An AR-15 can carry up to a clip of 60 bullets.
Steny Hoyer: (07:16)
I urge my colleagues to look at that image and tell me what message you think it sends. Here she is armed with a deadly assault rifle pointing it towards three Democratic members. Now the pictures are put together, you understand, they were not present. I understand that. And she captioned it “The Squad’s Worst Nightmare.” Yes, some people are having nightmares and fear and some people who wanted to give other people a nightmare committed sedition and broke into the House of Representatives and tried to stop us while electing a president of the United States.
Steny Hoyer: (08:02)
These three faces are real people, they’re three reasons we’re here. But there are many other reasons we’re here today. In 2019 during the same election cycle in which she ran, showed support for comments online that the quickest way to remove Speaker Pelosi from power would be and I quote, “A bullet to the head.” Did any of you hear Steve King say anything like that?
Steny Hoyer: (08:35)
You removed him from all of his committees. But as I said you did nothing. As a matter of fact you gave a standing ovation as I understand, I wasn’t there. What message does that send? What message does it send us, have a standing ovation to give these three women nightmares? Indisputable, these are clear threats to commit or incite political violence, not from years ago but just months ago. Imagine the pain that these members’ families must be experiencing when they see pictures like this one. Imagine what our children think, their children. Or when they know their loved ones are walking the halls of Congress and may encounter harassment as it happened to Representative Bush.
Steny Hoyer: (09:31)
So I ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle when they take this vote, imagine your faces on this poster. Imagine it’s a Democrat with a AR-15. Imagine what your response would be and would you think that that person ought to be held accountable? But when acquiescence to the suggestion of violence or any kind is allowed to go unchecked it is a cancer that metastasizes on the body politic of our nation as we saw just a few days ago on the 6th of January.
Steny Hoyer: (10:15)
A cancer, that’s how Senate Republican leader McConnell described it. He said, “Loony lies and conspiracy theories are a cancer for the Republican Party and our country.” McConnell, should we stand silent in the face of that kind of activity? He continued, “Somebody who suggested that perhaps no airplane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, that horrifying school shootings were pre-staged and that the Clinton’s crashed JFK Jr.’s airplane is not living in reality.” It’s not me talking, it’s not a Democrat talking, it’s Senator McConnell.
Steny Hoyer: (10:59)
This has nothing to do with the challenges facing American families or the robust debates on substance that can strengthen our parties. My colleagues across the aisle have an opportunity today to reclaim their party from the dangerous cancer of QAnon, and violent conspiracy theories that promote and have demonstrably resulted in sedition and insurrection. Senator Romney, you remember Senator Romney?
Steny Hoyer: (11:29)
He was candidate for president of the United States on the Republican ticket, nominated in the Republican Convention. He said of his party this week, “I think we should have nothing to do with Marjorie Taylor Greene and think we should repudiate the things she said and move away from her. Our big tent is not large enough to both accommodate conservatives and crooks.” Not my word, his words, a Republican Member of the United States Senate.
Steny Hoyer: (11:59)
Now he’s not a big buddy of Trump’s, so apparently he didn’t have to do what Trump suggested he do. And Senator Ernst, conservative woman from Iowa. “She doesn’t represent the party, I don’t want her to be the face of our party. I think this is a great time for us to really talk about what we want to see in the upcoming years and continue to build. We don’t need people that are promoting violence or anything like that.” That’s a Republican conservative Senator. Republican Senator and former governor of Florida Rick Scott said, a conservative Republican Senator, “That’s not what the Republican Party stands for.”
Steny Hoyer: (12:43)
Let me suggest to you, if it’s not vote with us, vote with the House. Not that Democrats, vote with the House of Representatives. Vote with good order and peace. Furthermore, Senator Young of Indiana said, “There ought to be no place in the Republican Party for the kind of views espoused by Representative Greene.” That’s what McCarthy said when you kicked King off all of his committees, this is not something you haven’t done, however, sadly you left it to us to do your job.
Steny Hoyer: (13:26)
Representative Cole called her statements, “Extraordinarily disturbing.” He said that yesterday, it’s an old quote. And Senator Thune asked his fellow Republicans in the House, “Do they want to be the party of limited government?” I think the answer to that is yes. “Or do they want to be the party of conspiracy theories and QAnon?” Furthermore, Senator Young of Indiana said, “There ought to be no place in the Republican Party for the kind of views espoused by Representative Greene.” That’s what your Republican colleagues have said.
Steny Hoyer: (14:04)
This is not partisan, this is about principle. And you can shake your head as much as you want. This is not about party, it’s about whether or not you will vote for decency and truth, not being member’s worst nightmare. I hope we can do it together, all of us embracing our humanity and our basic adherence to the constitution.
Steny Hoyer: (14:38)
Edmund Burke who I quoted earlier said, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Let us not do nothing. I often share another passage spoken so long go by Edmund Burke when a new member arrives to serve in the House. It concerns the duty a representative has to his or her constituents. His conclusion on that matter is that we owe them our unbiased opinion, mature judgment, and enlightened sense of conscience.
Steny Hoyer: (15:18)
What does your conscience tell you to do in light of this kind of assertion? Nothing? Burke told his own constituents that these virtues a representative does not derive from your pleasure nor from the law and the constitution, they are trust from Providence for the abuse of which you are deeply answerable. You representative owes you not his industry only, but his judgment and he betrays it instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion. This is not about polling, this is not about your base, this is about your conscience and your moral judgment.
Steny Hoyer: (16:06)
In other words, each of us ought to look inside our hearts to the answer we know is right and is best for the house and for our country. If the Republican Party for less toxic language took committee assignments away from Steve King, should they do less in this instance? There is no doubt that if somebody came to the Congress and had said before they came to Congress, “I am for violent revolution against the government of the United States of America.” That your party would say, “That’s not somebody we want to be associated with.” That’s not what she said, I do not assert that. But should we do less than you did for Steve King for far less toxic language? Let us not do nothing. Mr. Speaker, let us do the right thing. I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. Speaker: (17:05)
Gentleman Hoyer, yields back the balance of his time. Gentleman from Florida reserves, gentlewoman from Indiana is recognized.