Body shaming, IQ insults and cross talk: House committee meeting devolves into chaos amid personal insults

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WASHINGTON — Criticism of a member's "fake eyelashes" and another's intelligence. A question about discussing a member's "bleach blond, bad-built butch body."

A House Oversight Committee meeting Thursday night devolved into chaos amid personal attacks and partisan bickering in a rare evening session that was supposed to center on a resolution recommending Attorney General Merrick Garland be held in contempt of Congress.

The already tense hearing was derailed when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., responded to a question from Rep. Jasmine Crockett, D-Texas, by saying, “I think your fake eyelashes are messing up what you’re reading.”

Democrats, led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, immediately moved to strike Greene's words from the record and make her apologize to Crockett.

"That is absolutely unacceptable," Ocasio-Cortez said over cross talk. "How dare you attack the physical appearance of another person?"

Greene taunted Ocasio-Cortez, asking, "Are your feelings hurt?"

"Oh, girl? Baby girl," Ocasio-Cortez shot back. "Don't even play."

Greene attacked a second member just minutes after she criticized Crockett, asserting that Ocasio-Cortez did not have "enough intelligence" for a debate.

Greene had asked Ocasio-Cortez, "Why don't you debate me?"

Ocasio-Cortez responded that she thought "it's pretty self-evident."

"You don't have enough intelligence," Greene said as members of Congress audibly groaned at her attack.

Greene agreed to strike her comments toward Crockett but vehemently refused to apologize for the evening's attacks, declaring, “You will never get an apology out of me.”

politics political politician (House of Representatives)
politics political politician (House of Representatives)

Amid repeated demands from Democrats to strike Greene’s words from the record and force her to apologize, Comer eventually ruled that Greene’s insult of Crockett did not violate House rules against engaging in “personalities” during debate. When Democratic ranking member Jamie Raskin of Maryland sought to appeal the ruling, Republicans offered a motion to table, or kill, his appeal.

After the vote, Crockett asked Comer for clarification to understand his ruling about personal attacks on members of Congress.

"I'm just curious, just to better understand your ruling," Crockett said. "If someone on this committee then starts talking about somebody's bleach blond, bad-built butch body, that would not be engaging in personalities, correct?"

Chaos erupted again, with a member instructing Crockett to "calm down."

"I have two hearing aids. I'm very deaf," the committee’s chairman, Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., said after cross talk took over. "I'm not understanding — everybody's yelling. I'm doing the best I can."

After Comer agreed to strike Greene’s insult of Ocasio-Cortez, Democrats sought to enforce committee rules that would have prevented Greene from speaking for the rest of the hearing. Republicans voted to allow her to speak.

Comer ultimately called for a short recess amid debate over questions about a rule for members who have had comments struck from the record but wished to speak. Upon return, he reminded members to observe "the House's standard of decorum."

Greene was ultimately recognized to speak for more than four minutes, during which she reiterated that she would not apologize.

"I will not apologize for my words, and I will not change them," she said.

Nearly an hour after the hearing was derailed, the committee got back to debating whether Garland should be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over audio recordings of President Joe Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur over his handling of classified documents.

Tensions were already running high after a long day, with Republicans peppering Raskin's opening remarks with interruptions.

The meeting had originally been scheduled for 11 a.m., but it was moved to 8 p.m. after several committee members traveled to New York to attend the trial of former President Donald Trump.

The committee voted 24-20 along party lines to recommend holding Garland in contempt following the contentious meeting. House Speaker Mike Johnson’s office has not yet said when it would put the contempt resolution before the full House.

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