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Greene Calls for a ‘National Divorce’
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Greene Calls for a ‘National Divorce’

Plus: Republicans begin field hearings.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol on February 1, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Good morning. Both chambers of Congress are out this week, but that hasn’t stopped certain members from making news. 

National Divorce?

Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene spent Presidents’ Day questioning whether the United States should continue to exist.

“We need a national divorce,” she tweeted Monday morning. “We need to separate by red states and blue states and shrink the federal government.” She added, without offering more details of how exactly this would work: “Everyone I talk to says this.”

Greene has been publicly discussing the idea of a national divorce for more than a year, but her post Monday was her most definitive endorsement yet. Her spokesman didn’t reply to The Dispatch’s request for more details on Greene’s position and how it would differ (or align) with secession. 

Greene argues a “national divorce” wouldn’t be violent, and it’s impossible to say what her proposal would mean given its vagueness. But states already enjoy the freedom to enact and enforce radically different laws from each other, and history suggests that pushing for division beyond what’s currently allowed in America’s federal system could end violently.

After all, the secession of 11 Southern states between 1860 and 1861 prompted the Civil War. And legal scholars argue that the war answered whether states are able to secede: “The answer is clear,” the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in 2010. “If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede.”

Greene followed up Monday with a tweet from her official congressional account, suggesting an ultimatum: “Impeach Biden or give us a national divorce,” she wrote, slamming ongoing American support for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia.

It’s extreme rhetoric from a sitting member of Congress and a close ally of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The speaker’s office didn’t respond to The Dispatch’s request for comment, but a few Republican lawmakers pushed back on her remarks.

“We live in the greatest country in the world,” Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon told The Dispatch. “I embrace the spirit of Reagan who sought to unify, spoke to our better angels and the love of country.”

Rep. Nancy Mace quipped that she couldn’t recommend divorce, citing personal experience:

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, responded Monday that Greene’s rhetoric is “destructive and wrong and—honestly—evil.”

“We don’t need a divorce, we need marriage counseling,” he wrote. “And we need elected leaders that don’t profit by tearing us apart.”

Field Hearings Kick Off

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing in Yuma, Arizona, on Thursday to examine the Biden administration’s handling of the southern border. It’s the latest push by Republican committee chairs to bring hearings outside of the nation’s capital.

All Democratic members and several Republicans on the panel won’t attend the proceedings, because of various scheduling conflicts. But Rep. Jim Jordan, the chairman of the committee, will be joined by 14 Republican members, according to a release this week. Rep. Andy Biggs, who has called for impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, is expected to attend. Three local Arizona officials are slated to testify during the hearing.

Field hearings are nothing new, but Republicans are working to elevate them as they have new control of committees. The House Ways and Means Committee held its first hearing in West Virginia earlier this month. Members of the Energy and Commerce panel held a field hearing last week in Midland, Texas.

Rep. Mike Gallagher, chairman of the select committee on competition with the Chinese Communist Party, has said he wants to hold field hearings—even potentially outside the United States. He’s expected to hold two early events in New York this weekend on transnational repression by the Chinese government.

Field hearings “provide a unique opportunity to actually spend time in communities that are directly impacted by the issues we are talking about,” Rep. Bryan Steil, who chairs the Committee on House Administration, said.

Of Note

Haley Wilt is a former associate editor for The Dispatch.