House GOP piles up COVID response panel with top COVID conspiracy theorists

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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) revealed Tuesday his picks for the new Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic: Republicans who have been spreading dangerous misinformation about COVID-19 compared face mask wearing to the Holocaust and suggested that the Omicron government variant of the deadly virus was a Democratic hoax.

“The 118e Congress marks a new beginning for this institution,” McCarthy said in a statement announcing his selections for this subcommittee. “The Republican government agenda will be based on transparency, accountability and solutions.”

He’s not wrong about it being a new beginning: It’s another infusion of madmen on top of the House panel tasked with overseeing the government’s response to the COVID pandemic. The subcommittee was always destined to be more reality TV than legitimate policymaking; McCarthy handed out many high-profile committee seats to extremists to secure their votes for his speakership. But in this case, his appointments are just laughable.

His choices for the coronavirus panel include Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who was routinely kicked off Twitter for spreading COVID misinformation to hundreds of thousands of people, in violation of the company’s policies at the time.

Green wash suspended in July 2021 when she claimed COVID-19 wasn’t dangerous unless you were obese or over 65. She was suspended again a month later, when she falsely posted that COVID vaccines “failed.” She was permanently banned in January 2022 after falsely tweeting about “extremely high numbers of Covid vaccine deaths”. (Twitter reinstated her account in November 2022 after Elon Musk took over the site.)

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Greene also compared wearing a mask on the house floor to the Holocaust.

“You know, we can look back to a time in history when people were told to wear a gold star, and they were absolutely treated like second-class citizens, so much so that they were put on trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany. ‘, she said said in May 2021. “And this is exactly the kind of abuse Nancy Pelosi is talking about.”

The Georgia firebrand comments came at a time in the pandemic when more than 100 House Republicans declined to say whether they had been vaccinated, prompting then-Speaker Pelosi to retain a mask mandate for the House floor.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a member of the GOP’s new COVID subcommittee, compared wearing a mask on the house floor to the Holocaust.

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), a former physician to Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama, was also tapped before the House coronavirus panel. In November 2021, he claimed the omicron variant of COVID was a Democratic hoax to justify new mail-in voting rules — a version of a right-wing conspiracy theory that President Joe Biden and public health officials were taking action on COVID to boost Democrats electoral prospects.

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“Here comes the MEV – the mid-term election variant! They NEED a reason to push through unsolicited nationwide mail-in ballots, “Jackson tweeted, referring to omicron. “Democrats will do anything to SPECIAL during an election – but we won’t let them!”

In July 2020, in the early and deadliest period of the pandemic, Jackson called wearing a mask “a personal choice.” His comments not only contradicted universal guidelines from public health experts at the time, but even undermined another Texas Republican, Gov. Greg Abbott, who had mandated that masks be worn by most residents of the state.

Rep.  Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), a member of the GOP's new COVID subcommittee, claimed that the omicron variant was a Democratic hoax to justify new mail-in voting rules.
Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), a member of the GOP’s new COVID subcommittee, claimed that the omicron variant was a Democratic hoax to justify new mail-in voting rules.

McCarthy’s other GOP picks for the COVID subcommittee include Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (Iowa), who spread false information about the CDC planning to mandate COVID vaccines for children and about children not affected by COVID; Rep. Michael Cloud (Texas), in March 2020 voted against the Families First COVID Response Act, which provided emergency funding for free COVID testing and paid time off for employees impacted by the pandemic; Rep. John Joyce (Pa.), who submitted an account to prevent the government from issuing standardized COVID vaccine status cards; and Rep. Rich McCormick (Ga.), an ER doctor who spreading misinformation about masks and COVID vaccines.

The good news about the new subcommittee, in terms of credibility of GOP members, is that only a few of them voted to throw out the results of the 2020 presidential election based on the same lie that spawned an attempted coup in the US Capitol on 1 January sparked. 6, 2021.

Of the nine Republicans tapped for this panel, six attempted to prevent the peaceful transfer of presidential power that day: Reps. Nicole Malliotakis (NY), Debbie Lesko (Ariz.), Cloud, Joyce, Green and Jackson.

The other three GOP members on the committee are Miller-Meeks, McCormick and Chairman Brad Wenstrup (Ohio).

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