How did Marjorie Taylor Greene get her committee assignments?
February 4, 2021 9:22 AM   Subscribe

In all the talk about stripping her of her seats on the education and budget committees, the detail I've not seen is how she got them in the first place. Is it typical for newly-elected freshman congresspeople to be assigned to committees at that level? If not, who was responsible for the decision to include her?
posted by ook to Law & Government (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Everybody’s on some committees, and each party assigns who from their party is on which committee. They do this by passing resolutions. H.Res. 63 is the main one for the Republicans, though there were a couple before then. Also several from the Democrats.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:28 AM on February 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Short answer: yes, totally normal, because there are no levels of committees. There are twenty standing committees in the House, and none are any more important than any other. Every member serves on a couple of committees. Although party leadership ultimately determines who serves on which committee, members can request specific assignments based on their interests. The classic example is Judiciary, whose members are overwhelmingly lawyers, which makes sense. It's also pretty common to allow members to continue serving on committees on which they'd served in previous sessions. The leadership then balances the requests for committee assignments such that each committee is full and each member serves on a couple. So she got her assignments the same way everyone else in this Congress, and the previous Congress, and the Congress before that did. This is just how the House works.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:55 AM on February 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It's mostly normal.

When you're first elected to Congress, your party leadership structure will ask you which committees you're interested in serving on. You should give this a right ponder, because if your requests are realistic* you're likely to get most of what you ask for. Your party might tell you no because of high demand for one committee, especially if you're in the minority party, or they might tell you that you really should have at least one constituent-service committee if you didn't request one.

Budget is maybe kinda high profile for a newb, but Budget is not a big fuck-you RAWR! powerhouse committee. In the House, those are Appropriations, Ways and Means, and Rules.

*Unrealistic: "I wanna sit on Appropriations and be the chair of the Rules Committee."
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:57 AM on February 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: OK, the "everybody's on some committees" part is what I was missing; I was under the impression that the committees were special assignments, not something for all members.

posted by ook at 9:58 AM on February 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

This book is a classic study of the process back when: Kenneth A. Shepsle. The Giant Jigsaw Puzzle: Democratic Committee Assignments in the Modern House. University of Chicago Press, 1978.

This might interest you: The study of legislative committees
posted by lathrop at 10:37 AM on February 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

On the Dem side, both Katie Porter and AOC were on the House Financial Services Committee as "fresh(wo)men" reps.
posted by sideshow at 10:40 AM on February 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Also, the House Clerk's office hasn't updated the rosters yet, but House committees are big. Education and Labor is split 28-22; Budget is 22-14. (Weirdly, the Budget Committee works on the annual budget resolution, but doesn't do the specific appropriations or tax-writing; those are Appropriations and Ways and Means. Also, membership on the Budget Committee is term-limited.)

Committee appointments are passed by a majority of the House, and are typically not controversial, but that which a majority of the House giveth, a majority of the House can take away.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 10:54 AM on February 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Standing committee member of Congress apparently CANNOT be removed, only resigned from. There is no senate rule for it, that I can find. I haven't looked at the house rules yet. (XXIV) but I doubt it will be significantly different.

There was a story back in 2018 when Chris Collins (R-NY) was arrested for insider trading, and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) stated that Collins will not be serving on the Energy and Commerce COmmittee. However, Ryan actually has NO AUTHORITY to remove Collins permanently as it's a standing committee. Speaker DOES have authority to remove members from non-standing committees. Collins instead, actually submitted a letter of resignation, which was accepted by the House unanimously. (It's was heavily suggested some political behind-the-scenes arm-twisting happened)

The same article also references a rebellion back in 2013 or so when then speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) got rid of 4 Republicans of key committee assignments. But he didn't remove them, but instead, manipulated the party steering committee nomination process so their renomination to their old position was not confirmed.

So to answer your original question, she was nominated by her party's steering committee to serve on a few committees.
posted by kschang at 11:03 AM on February 4, 2021

Standing committee member of Congress apparently CANNOT be removed, only resigned from.

I think you mean to say they cannot be unilaterally removed by the leadership. They can be removed by majority resolution because majority resolution was how they got the appointment to begin with.
posted by JackFlash at 11:21 AM on February 4, 2021

Short answer: yes, totally normal, because there are no levels of committees.

Democratic and Republican caucuses do, internally, designate "exclusive" committees that members can only serve on one of unless they get a waiver. These are especially powerful and desirable committees that draw a lot of fundraising:

Appropriations - decides on spending
Rules - decides what can go to the floor
Ways and Means - taxation
Energy and Commerce - A vast array of economic and environmental issues
Financial Services - Banking, etc.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 11:38 AM on February 4, 2021

There was a bit on Rachel Maddow about this last night. Apparently if you don’t have a committee assignment, you have nothing to do apart from floor votes (and begging for money, which is a big part of being a representative). The GOP stripped Steve King (who used to pass for “intolerable” within the GOP) of his committee assignments and he retired shortly after.
posted by adamrice at 11:49 AM on February 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

To add to the comment above, notes a few other examples:
If Greene were to be removed from her committees, it wouldn't be the first time this happened, but it is rare. In 2001, Democrat Jim Traficant voted for Dennis Hastert (R) for speaker and he was stripped of his committee assignments. In 2006, William Jefferson (D) was kicked off the House Ways and Means Committee after the FBI found $90,000 in bribes he had accepted in the form of cold hard cash—hidden in his freezer. In 2007, Larry Craig (R) was caught playing footsie with a cop in a mens' room at the MSP airport and voluntarily gave up his committee assignments and didn't seek reelection in 2008. In 2018, Chris Collins (R) and Duncan Hunter (R) were stripped of committee assignments—after they were indicted for financial crimes. In 2019, Steve King (R) was stripped of his committee assignments for saying white supremacy isn't so bad.
All of these people left Congress soon after, though most because they were convicted of felonies and going to prison. (Collins and Hunter were among the very fine people pardoned by Trump on his way out the door.)
posted by Syllepsis at 9:24 PM on February 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

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