WASHINGTON — Four Texas Republicans in the U.S. House were on the losing end of a lopsided and bipartisan vote on Friday that approved a measure condemning the QAnon conspiracy theory movement.
The resolution, titled "Condemning QAnon and rejecting the conspiracy theories it promotes," passed 371 to 18. Among the 18 dissenters were Republican U.S. Reps. Jodey Arrington of Lubbock, Brian Babin of Woodville, Michael Burgess of Lewsiville and Bill Flores of Bryan.
Four other Texas Republican representatives did not cast votes: U.S. Reps. Michael Cloud of Victoria, Louie Gohmert of Tyler, Kenny Marchant of Coppell and Ron Wright of Arlington. (Wright is currently being treated for cancer.) The 27 other Texans serving in the U.S. House, including all 13 Texas Democrats, voted to condemn QAnon.
The FBI has identified the movement as a domestic terrorism threat. BuzzFeed reported earlier this week that followers of QAnon targeted the resolution's author, New Jersey Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski, with death threats. Malinowski's resolution condemned and rejected the conspiracy theories the movement promotes and included a list of crimes in which the perpetrators cited QAnon as a guiding inspiration. The resolution additionally pointed to FBI and U.S. military warnings about the movement's potential to foment political tension and radicalization.
The QAnon movement adheres to an unfounded theory that a cryptic government official named "Q" is exposing a plot against Trump by "deep-state" actors involving satanism and child sex trafficking. It has gained more attention as it has spread in conservative political circles online. Some believers have been accused of plotting or carrying out violent crimes. In April, an Illinois woman was arrested after she traveled to New York with illegal knives and wrote on Facebook that Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden need to be "taken out."
In statements to the Tribune, three of the four Texas Republican dissenters dismissed the resolution as a political stunt and said House leadership should instead be focused on addressing the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's a swampy strategy to call out a fringe right-wing group with no mention of ANTIFA and other radical Leftist groups after over one hundred days of unmitigated mob violence in cities across America," Arrington said. "Instead of political stunts, Democrat leadership should be working on bipartisan legislation to provide relief to working families and small businesses in a time of unprecedented crisis."
Said Burgess: "This resolution was designed as a blunt force weapon to be used against the Administration — not to condemn conspiracy theory groups."
"I know next to nothing about this Qanon stuff, but I do know that this resolution put forward by the House Democrat Majority will serve only to give its devotees the publicity and legitimacy they are desperate for," Babin said in his own statement. "We've got big, real issues to deal with in Congress, and instead we spent most of today debating this silly, pointless, powerless resolution that was written and brought to the floor for one reason: to make campaign commercials."
Marjorie Taylor Greene, a GOP congressional candidate who openly supports the movement, won her primary runoff this summer in Georgia and will likely join the U.S. House in January.
The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.