The two have clashed repeatedly in the past, but Harris indicated that particular spat had been factored into the thinking of the conservative group.
“I think the way he referred to a colleague was probably not the way we expect our members to refer to other members, especially women,” Harris said Thursday. The Maryland Republican declined to say how he voted, but called the decision to remove her « an appropriate action. »
It’s the first time the conservative caucus has initiated its own, and it reflects the group’s growing level of frustration with Greene. She’s closely allied with President Kevin McCarthy this year, pitting against many members of the Freedom Caucus when she backed both his rocky speaker bid and his debt deal with President Joe Biden. At the same time, the group is working on a post-Trump fork, with some concerns the group risks becoming too friendly with the party establishment.
When asked if her support for McCarthy and the debt deal contributed to the decision to remove her from the group, Harris replied, « I think that all mattered. »
« I think the straw that broke the camel’s back was saying things publicly about another member in terms that no one should, » she said.
A Freedom Caucus spokesperson declined to comment on Greene’s status, noting that the group does not comment on membership or internal processes. Greene did not directly address his Freedom Caucus membership in a statement Thursday, saying instead that, « In Congress, I serve Northwest Georgia first and I serve no group in Washington. »
« The GOP has less than two years to show America what a strong and unified Republican-led Congress will do when President Trump wins the White House in 2024. That’s my goal, nothing else, » he added.
Greene usually attends the group’s weekly off-campus meeting. But that closed-door gathering is restricted to members, which means she will no longer be able to attend.
While this is the first time the group has formally voted to remove a member from its ranks, it’s not the first to leave. Then-Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan previously left the group in 2019 and left the Republican Party shortly thereafter. Harris noted that there was « another member a couple of years ago, that we probably would have asked to leave, but we just decided against it. »
And it may not end in Greene. There has been discussion of targeting a handful of members other than the Georgia Republican, who critics see violate the group’s standards by being inactive. House Freedom Caucus Speaker Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) previously told POLITICO that he denied those takedown calls, which came ahead of the vote to remove Greene.
“The race of the speaker, there was some difference of opinion. The debt ceiling, there were differences of opinion. And we had to get 80 percent on any major issue that we take a stand on,” Rep. Ralph Norman (RS.C.), a member of the Freedom Caucus, previously called POLITICIAN, referring to the threshold necessary for the group to assume a unified position. « On some big issues, we haven’t been able to get there. »
The group is currently at the center of the fight for government funding as they try to push McCarthy and members of the leadership to fall below the levels set in the debt agreement and to hold the line when he finally has to negotiate with the White House and Democrats in the Senate.
While the group is largely unified in wanting lower spending, they even privately discussed what their strategy should be after striking a deal with McCarthy to end a week-long standoff that blocked the floor of the House.
Harris, however, argued that there were no other « great divisions » left after Greene’s boot, and praised Perry.
« This wasn’t even a speed bump, » added Harris.
Olivia Beavers contributed to this report.