There’s a growing rift in the Republican party and North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman, never one to be confused for a political wallflower, has joined the fray.
Tensions between the GOP establishment and a new wave of politicians who have ridden to prominence on a wave of populism and Trumpism have been growing for years but have bubbled over in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and Trump’s departure from office.
At the forefront of this rift are freshly sworn in House members Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado), both outspoken gun rights activists who have expressed support for and propagated far-right conspiracy theories, including those pushed by QAnon
While Boebert initially caused a stir
with a provocative fundraising ad declaring she was going to carry her Glock pistol in Washington, most of the recent controversy has surrounded Greene, as a steady stream of old interviews and social media posts supporting conspiracy theories and extremist views have surfaced. Most notably, Greene’s social media accounts have liked posts calling for the execution of prominent Democratic politicians, while she has suggested the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were part of a government conspiracy, school shootings were staged and the devastating 2018 Camp Fire that killed 86 people wasn’t caused by a PG&E equipment failure but a space laser controlled by a wealthy Jewish family with the goal of clearing space for then Gov. Jerry Brown’s now defunct high-speed rail project.
That last one hit close to home for Huffman, and on Sunday he issued a joint statement with former North Coast Rep. Mike Thompson, whom redistricting moved to California’s Fifth Congressional District in 2013.
“These comments made by our colleague from Georgia are not only false and nonsensical, but downright disrespectful,” the pair said. “They are an insult to the firefighters in Butte County, our district, and across California who have lost their lives fighting fires like the Camp Fire. We represent neighboring districts where thousands of people have lost homes and dozens have lost their lives due to fires and we are disgusted a colleague could ever endorse these false and anti-Semitic claims.”
Of course, the lawmakers have a lot of company in criticizing Greene. Most notably, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted
her “loony lies,” calling them a cancer on the Republican party. But others — including former President Donald Trump — have praised Greene while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is set to meet with Greene privately this week to discuss her comments and views amid increasing pressure from one faction of the GOP to censure her.
A group of several dozen Democrats — including Huffman — has meanwhile put together legislation to censure and potentially expel
Greene from office. Huffman took to Facebook on Sunday with a message to his Republican colleagues and constituents.
“To the decent people who still belong to the Republican party: It’s time to leave,” he wrote. “The significance of the Marjorie Taylor Greene drama is not her personal antics; it’s what it says about the Republican Party — that someone this manifestly hateful, violent, racist, anti-Semitic and mentally unhinged remains a Republican Congresswoman in good standing. … The GOP base and its soulless leaders are so inebriated by Trumpism that nothing — not violent sedition, not unhinged racism, not losing elections, not even finger wagging from corporate donors — can change them.”
Huffman went on to say that while he once recognized GOP values — small government, personal and civil liberties, fiscal discipline and free markets — that attracted “decent conservative people.”
“No more,” he wrote. “Today’s GOP stands only for white grievance, hate, authoritarianism and deranged Christian nationalism. Good people must disassociate from the moral rot of this party now. … If you can’t bring yourself to register as a Democrat, try another party or no party at all.”
Meanwhile, Huffman and colleague Jackie Speier (D-California) have reintroduced legislation that would close an exemption and prohibit members of Congress from carrying firearms on Capitol grounds, with Huffman having pointed to Boebert and Greene as examples why the legislation is necessary.
“I’ve been pushing for years to change this outdated rule, knowing there was an inevitable risk in allowing members to carry guns in the Capitol,” Huffman said in a press release. “While we’d like to think we could rely on common decency, we now have colleagues who are QAnon and white supremacist sympathizers, incite violence and insurrection, and have even bragged about bringing guns into the House Chamber. You can't have an honor system with dishonorable people who think the rules don't apply to them. … For everyone’s safety, members of Congress must be subject to the same gun restrictions that apply to everyone else who visits or works in the Capitol.”
Read more about the bill in the press release copied below.
Huffman, Speier Renew Efforts to Increase Gun Safety in the U.S. Capitol
Members Reintroduce Bill to Hold Members of Congress to the Same Standard as Everyone Else to Ensure Safety of All
Washington, D.C. – Today, Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and Representative Jackie Speier (D- Hillsborough) reintroduced the No Congressional Gun Loophole Act, which would exclude Members of Congress and staff from the Capitol Police Board’s exemption for firearms on Capitol Grounds. While in the Capitol and House office buildings, the legislation would explicitly prevent Members from possessing firearms, nullifying the Capitol Police Board regulations that allow this, and would require Members of Congress to comply with District of Columbia gun safety and registration requirements. Currently, the over-50-year-old regulation exempts Members of Congress from the firearm rules that apply to everyone else who visits or works at the U.S. Capitol.
“I’ve been pushing for years to change this outdated rule, knowing there was an inevitable risk in allowing Members to carry guns in the Capitol,” said Rep. Huffman. “While we’d like to think we could rely on common decency, we now have colleagues who are QAnon and white supremacist sympathizers, incite violence and insurrection, and have even bragged about bringing guns into the House Chamber. You can't have an honor system with dishonorable people who think the rules don't apply to them. Members of Congress should not be above the law. These outdated and dangerous rules must be modernized. For everyone’s safety, Members of Congress must be subject to the same gun restrictions that apply to everyone else who visits or works in the Capitol.”
“As a survivor of gun violence, I know what it’s like to battle for your life after being shot five times and left for dead. And statistics show that accidents happen when there are firearms around. The existing exemption for Representatives increases the risk of gun violence for Members, staff, and the public. It’s long past time we close the Member loophole and protect all who enter the Capitol complex,” Rep. Speier said.
This renewed effort follows the increase in violence at the Capitol and reports of Members violating existing rules preventing them from carrying weapons on the House Floor. Last December, following increased attention to the current rules during Freshmen Member Orientation following the 2020 election Rep. Huffman led a letter to House leadership requesting a change in House Rules for the 117th Congress to ensure that Members of Congress are held to the same firearm safety rules as the public while they are on Capitol grounds. This rule change was not included in the 117th Congress House Rules package. Currently, Members of Congress are exempt from the firearms prohibition in 40 U.S.C. § 5104 under the Capitol Police Board’s regulations.
Huffman and Speier were joined in this legislation by Representatives Mike Levin (D-CA), Cynthia Axne (D-IA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Sean Casten (D-IL), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Judy Chu (D-CA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Ed Case (D-HI), Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Andre Carson (D-IL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Grace Meng (D-NY), Donald S. Beyer (D-VA), Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL), Suuzanne Bonimici (D-WA), Mark Desaulnier (D-CA), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Haley Stevens (D-MI) and Dan Kildee (D-MI).
A copy of the bill text can be found here.
Congressman Jared Huffman represents California’s 2nd Congressional District, which spans the North Coast of the state from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border, and includes Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity, and Del Norte counties. He currently serves on the Committee on Natural Resources, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. In the 116th Congress, he chairs the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife. He is the founder of the Congressional Freethought Caucus.