GOP Rep. Reed would support sanctions against colleagues who use extreme rhetoric

The congressman from New York joined ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast.

January 27, 2021, 6:09 PM

Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, said that he would support sanctions against members of the House who repeat violent rhetoric, like Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who expressed support online for executing prominent congressional Democrats.

"I'll support sanctions by the leadership that they feel appropriate in this matter," Reed said on ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. "And I hope they do take measures that will send the message that this is unacceptable. And I would hope my colleagues on the left will do the same thing -- as those that hold posts of leadership on the left -- that engaged in this extreme rhetoric."

Reed told ABC News Political Director Rick Klein and Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl that while members are elected to represent their constituents, they also have to represent the Republican Party as a whole.

"I don't know her," Reed said of Greene. "But I've expressed concern about the rhetoric and the information that I'm seeing with her, and I would hope some folks would maybe talk with her. And maybe leadership, as my understanding, is going to be talking to her, because one of the things that is concerning when you have folks that come to D.C. -- and I appreciate the passion, ... what I try to do is just recognize that when you represent folks and when you're a representative, what you do is also representative of us as Republicans -- as a whole. What you do in regards to how you do it, we all have to answer for."

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene sits in the House Chamber in Washington, Jan.6, 2021.
Erin Schaff/Pool via Getty Images

Reed said he believes that Democrats have a similar problem, pointing to members of the progressive "Squad."

Karl pushed back on that statement, using Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., as an example.

"But you haven't seen AOC suggesting executing fellow members of Congress," Karl said. "Executing members of Congress? I haven't seen that."

Reed responded, "I've seen some extreme rhetoric. I've seen some extreme rhetoric posted on the internet."

"And I'm not going to get into this battle with you as to what behavior is acceptable and what is not acceptable by members. And I will say any rhetoric that is of that extreme nature, like what you just articulated from my colleague on the Republican side is offensive. It's appalling. It cannot be accepted. And where I see it on both sides of the aisle. That's unacceptable," he continued. "We, as members, owe it to the American people to recognize that we have to do better than that. And I condemn it from the loudest of mountaintops that that is not acceptable. And I encourage my members on both sides of the aisle, in their own House and across the aisle, you need to condemn it together and stand together to condemn it and say it's unacceptable."

Reed, who has been a member of Congress since the Obama administration, told Klein and Karl that compromise is as important as ever, but he isn't surprised at the flurry of executive orders from President Joe Biden at the beginning of his administration.

"It's not helpful, to be honest with you," Reed said of the executive orders. "But having been through Obama's administration, Trump's administration and now Biden's administration, I recognize that the elections have consequences and executive orders are part of those consequences."

President Joe Biden speaks as Vice President Kamala Harris looks on during an event in the State Dining Room of the White House, Jan. 21, 2021, in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

"And as I've told the administrations before, and I told my colleagues, what can be done by executive order can be undone by executive order. That's why that is a terrible way to govern the nation -- the zig-zag approach that tears the country apart," he added. "Do it on the old fashioned engagement. Compromise is not a dirty word and try to get it done."

Reed is one of 58 members of the congressional Problem Solvers Caucus, which is working on negotiations surrounding Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.

"We've had multiple meetings with the White House, and I will tell you, I take their commitment that they said, 'We'll meet with you. We'll talk with you. We'll listen to you.' And so let's see how this unfolds over the next few weeks," he said. "But I think they're looking at it from a multi-prong approach to see what they have to do in order to get something done."

Reed said members are ready to work in "good faith" with the White House on pushing forward with negotiations, but some of the money from the $900 billion package hasn't made it out of "the coffers of Washington, D.C., yet."

"So we've got to see where we stand," Reed added. "I think there's broad recognition that it's going to take six weeks -- eight weeks at a minimum, to get a reconciliation bill through the House and Senate because it's so divided on a narrow margin, equally divided in the Senate. But in the meantime, what I encourage the Biden administration to consider is what can we agree upon immediately?"

Rep. Tom Reed attends a news conference with a group of bipartisan lawmakers to unveil a proposal for a COVID-19 relief bill in Washington, Dec. 14, 2020.
CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images, FILE

Klein asked Reed to elaborate on what outreach and collaboration looks like from the Biden White House in comparison to former President Donald Trump's.

Reed said Biden's history as a member of Congress leads him to place an emphasis on building relationships.

"I think President Biden was always a man of the Senate ... enjoys those relationships," Reed said. "And so I'm glad to see us continuing on the Trump administration's practice of reaching out and developing relationships to bring these members to the White House."

Reed, who voted against impeaching Trump, said he supported all members voting with their conscience, including No. 3 House Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who is now facing censure efforts from some members of her conference.

"When it came to impeachment, as I told my colleagues, when I stood in front of them on that conference, this is going to be a vote of conscience, just as the vote on the Electoral College is. But if you're using this moment for politics -- Machiavellian politics -- I condemn them."

"This is a critical moment in our history that we have to look beyond politics and look at what's good for the country," Reed added. "And I think our Republican Party is strong enough -- I know it is -- to have the difference of opinions, where members vote their conscience. And we can get through it, and we will become united and we'll become stronger when we get through this. It's going to be ugly. It's going to be a fight that's going to occur."

Reed said it's time for his colleagues to put political arguments behind them in order to heal divisions across the nation.

"And if we're engaging in politics, let's put it behind us. ... Let's lead with a Republican Party that's united. Listen to the Trump voters, listen to their anger, listen to their frustration and let us get through this as quick as we possibly can. But it's going to take time and we're going to have to not only heal the wounds of the party, but let's lead the country in healing the wounds of a broken country," he said.