Democrats and Republicans currently agree on little in Congress, but party leaders united Tuesday to emphatically condemn a US lawmaker who repeatedly equated mask mandates with Nazis forcing Jews to wear yellow stars in war-era Germany.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, a controversial congressman who has spread conspiracy theories, doubled down on her distasteful comments, which included tweets about a business making its employees who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus wear a vaccination logo on their name badge.
“Vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazi’s forced Jewish people to wear a gold star,” the freshman Republican from Georgia wrote.
“Vaccine passports & mask mandates create discrimination against unvaxxed people who trust their immune systems to a virus that is 99% survivable.”
Greene is a fierce defender of former president Donald Trump and promoter of his baseless claim that Democrats stole the 2020 election.
Her five months in Congress have been repeatedly marked by controversy and rising frustration within her party over her extreme remarks.
Her comments linking mask rules to the Holocaust led House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to denounced her comments – while also accusing Democrats of anti-Semitism.
“Marjorie is wrong, and her intentional decision to compare the horrors of the Holocaust with wearing masks is appalling,” McCarthy said in a statement.
“Let me be clear: the House Republican Conference condemns this language,” he added.
With increased violence against Jews in the US in recent weeks, “anti-Semitism is on the rise in the Democrat Party and is completely ignored by Speaker Nancy Pelosi”, McCarthy said.
A handful of Democratic lawmakers have condemned Israel’s recent deadly air strikes on Gaza, with at least one describing Israel as an “apartheid” state.
Pelosi for her part blasted Greene’s comments as “beyond reprehensible”.
Asked by reporters whether Greene should be expelled or censured, Pelosi demurred: “I think she should stop talking.”
The Senate’s top Republican Mitch McConnell also slammed Greene for one of her “frequent outbursts” that he called “absolutely outrageous and reprehensible”.
But he too stopped short of saying whether action against Green should be taken.
The controversy began Sunday when Greene, speaking to a conservative podcast, compared Pelosi’s decision to maintain mask rules for lawmakers on the House floor to Nazi actions against Jews.
Several Democrats have said Greene is unfit to serve in Congress.
But a defiant Greene insisted it was the “socialist” left discriminating against US citizens.
“Their attempts to shame, ostracise, and brand Americans who choose not to get vaccinated or wear a mask are reminiscent of the great tyrants of history who did the same to those who would not comply,” she said in a statement.