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House Republicans used to police their own members, now it's anything goes

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Paul Gosar
Paul Gosar questions United States Park Police acting Chief Gregory T. Monahan on Capitol Hill on July 28, 2020.Bill Clark / Pool via Reuters

WASHINGTON — In 2019, House Republicans, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, unanimously removed then-Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, from his committee assignments after his comments about white nationalism.

In Feb. 2021, 11 House Republicans joined all Democrats in stripping Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., from her committee positions after social media posts revealed her spreading conspiracy theories and embracing calls for violence against Democrats.

But yesterday, just two Republicans — Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. — voted to censure Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and expel him from his committee assignments after he posted an anime video depicting him killing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Biden.

At this rate, by 2023, we very well could be down to zero House Republicans willing to punish their colleagues over any behavior — no matter the offense.

Instead, some of them are now threatening that they’ll retaliate against Democrats if or when the GOP takes control of Congress after the midterms.

We’ll state it plainly: Just 10 months removed from Jan. 6, there is no collective political decency on Capitol Hill. Especially when one political party can’t or won’t police violent images by its own members.

Sure, vigorously debate the size of government, the state of the economy, abortion, foreign policy and taxes. But when one party tolerates a member posting violent images against the political opposition, or engages in “whataboutism” as a defense, or is upset the political opposition is taking action when it refused to do so — civility is gone.

Just look at McCarthy’s own evolution: He’s gone from condemning misbehavior by his own members (Steve King) and speaking out about Donald Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 (saying the former president “bears responsibility” for the attack), to ignoring certain actions (Marjorie Taylor Greene) and now rationalizing them (Gosar).

And the next logical step becomes actively condoning the misbehavior.

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Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

36 percent: The share of adults approving of President Biden’s job, according to a new national Quinnipiac poll.

8 points: Republicans’ advantage when adults were asked which party they want to control the U.S. House, with 46 percent picking the GOP and 38 percent wanting the Democrats in charge, per the same poll.

100,306: The number of people who died from overdoses between April 2020 and April 2021, per new government data.

15: The number of House Democrats not seeking re-election (six are seeking higher office), including North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield, who is expected to announce his decision to retire today.

2/3: The approximate portion of those making at least one million dollars who would receive a tax cut under the Democratic social spending plan raising the state and local tax deduction cap.

47,439,931: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 111,445 more since yesterday morning.)

770,379: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 1,651 more since yesterday morning.)

444,789,186: The number of total vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 1,414,987 more since yesterday morning.)

31,464,669: The number of booster vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 755,690 since yesterday morning.)

58.9 percent: The share of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

70.7 percent: The share of all Americans 18-years and older who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

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Some in the tennis world are raising concerns about the safety of a star tennis player who accused a top Chinese official of sexual assault.

The ‘QAnon Shaman’ has been sentenced to more than 3 years in prison for his conduct in the Capitol riot.

Florida Republicans passed bills limiting mask and vaccine mandates during a legislative special session.

Two of the men who were convicted of assassinating Malcolm X are expected to be exonerated posthumously.

The latest round of redistricting is winnowing the number of swing seats.