Skip to content

Democratic lawmaker takes the bait on Greene ‘troll’ amendment

Expert calls Greene's filings 'emblematic of an unserious politics'

Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Fla., and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.
Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Fla., and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. (Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call)

When Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene used a typically under-the-radar legislative process to send political messages Wednesday about foreign aid funding bills, one of her Democratic colleagues decided to strike back.

Greene filed a flurry of amendments to the Ukraine aid bill with the House Rules Committee, including one to require any member who votes in favor of the package “to conscript in the Ukrainian military.”

Several congressional experts dubbed it a “troll” amendment, slang for something outrageous meant to provoke a response.

Florida Democratic Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a frequent Greene foil, took the bait.

He offered his own amendments. One would appoint Greene “as Vladimir Putin’s Special Envoy to the United States Congress.” Another would rename her Cannon office the “Neville Chamberlain Room,” a reference to the former prime minister of the United Kingdom known for his appeasement of Adolf Hitler.

“I’m not going to sit by and let her nonsense go unanswered. If she wants to do Putin’s bidding then let’s just go make it official,” Moskowitz said in an interview. “She wants to surrender the world. Let the Ayatollah in Iran take Israel. Let Putin take Europe. That’s what she wants.”

Greene did not respond to a request for comment on Moskowitz’s amendments.

Lawmakers customarily file messaging bills, meant to score political points, even though they won’t go anywhere. But Greene and Moskowitz using the amendment process for such squabbling is something different, according to some congressional experts.

Matt Glassman, a senior fellow at the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown, wrote on social media that there has “always been chucklehead Members of the House.”

“But the prominence of many of the chuckleheads in the GOP and the ever-increasing general level of chucklehead behavior worries me,” Glassman posted.

In total, Greene submitted more than 20 amendments to the Ukraine aid bill and four to the Israel aid bill. Her first proposal on the Israel package would provide funding for the development of space laser technology “on the southwest border” – apparently a reference to her widely panned comments, made before she was a lawmaker, regarding the cause of a massive 2018 wildfire in California. Another amendment calls for an iron dome to be built on the Southern border.

“You can look at it as just nonsense bickering, but count me as someone who sees the MTG troll amendments as actually damaging to the House and emblematic of an unserious politics that is rapidly spreading, and the Moskowitz troll amendment response not helpful,” Glassman wrote.

Kevin Kosar, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who studies Congress, used the same word. “Rep. MTG seems to think the job of a legislator is to be a troll. When will Georgia’s 14th district voters decide enough is enough?” Kosar posted on social media.

Josh Huder, also a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Government Affairs Institute, said he couldn’t think of “an instance where two members intentionally go to the trouble of drafting legislative language targeting one another for purely performative reasons… But here we are.”

Moskowitz, meanwhile, has often played an antagonistic role on the contentious House Oversight and Accountability Committee. In March, he wore a Putin mask to a hearing on Hunter Biden, mocking his Republican colleagues for their alleged fealty to the Russian leader.

Viagra amendment as historic example

Anthony J. Madonna, a political science associate professor at the University of Georgia who researches American political institutions and congressional politics, said there has been “a pretty stark increase in amendments being offered for purely electoral purposes over the past couple decades.”

“But it’s also true that the practice of offering a floor amendment for electoral or comedic purposes has gone on for much of congressional history,” Madonna said.

In one notable example, Madonna said former Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn introduced an amendment to a reconciliation bill that amended and made corrections to the Affordable Care Act that would’ve barred insurance coverage of erectile dysfunction drug Viagra for child molesters and rapists.

Coburn’s Democratic colleague Max Baucus of Montana called it “not a serious amendment” that made “a mockery of this Senate,” according to Madonna. The amendment ultimately was defeated.

At the House Rules Committee on Thursday, Greene’s amendment got skewered by Rep. Jim McGovern, the top Democrat on the panel, when there was a question of whether any more members wished to testify before going into recess.

“Is there no more witnesses? I was hoping Marjorie Taylor Greene would come and talk about her space lasers amendment,” McGovern said. “Anyway, but she’s not here.”

Thursday’s amendment quarrel appeared to spill over from a House Oversight hearing a day earlier, when Moskowitz called out Greene for claiming Nazism was rife in Ukraine, a frequent Putin talking point.

Greene pointed to a 2021 Time story about the online recruitment strategies of a Ukrainian white-supremacist militia.

“It’s amazing to me that just in a few years’ time, it’s now considered misinformation to talk about the Nazis in Ukraine,” said Greene, who in 2022 spoke at a conference organized by white nationalist Nick Fuentes.

Mainstream outlets such as NBC News have published pieces about the problem of neo-Nazism and white nationalism in Ukraine, while debunking Putin’s claim the invasion was in part driven by a desire for the “denazification” of Ukraine.

Moskowitz, at the hearing, told Greene to stop bringing up Nazis and Hitler.

“I say this as someone whose grandparents escaped the Holocaust… There are no concentration camps in Ukraine… They’re not trying to erase a people, the Ukrainians,” Moskowitz said.

Recent Stories

Eight questions for elections in five states on Tuesday

Paul Pelosi attacker sentenced to 30 years in prison

House Over-slight Committee — Congressional Hits and Misses

Biden kicks off outreach to Black voters as protest threat looms at Morehouse

Editor’s Note: Stock market no panacea for Biden, Democrats

Photos of the week ending May 17, 2024