The Latest on Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Passion Project to Oust Mike Johnson

Greene stands pretty much alone in her effort to remove the Speaker over bipartisan military aid to Ukraine, but that hasn't stopped her from talking up a storm

The Latest on Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Passion Project to Oust Mike Johnson

In the wake of Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson cutting several deals with President Biden on the federal budget and new military aid to Ukraine, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) is talking up a storm (again) about removing Johnson from the Speaker’s office. In November, Johnson came to power after weeks of Republican in-fighting to pick a replacement for former Speaker Kevin McCarthy after he was ousted the month before. Johnson has already faced numerous ousting threats since. At this juncture, Greene is the only House Republican actively campaigning for his removal as the caucus recently lost six seats of his already precarious majority—but she alone is making enough noise for her entire caucus.

“Mike Johnson’s speakership is over. He needs to do the right thing to resign and allow us to move forward in a controlled process. If he doesn’t do so, he will be vacated,” Greene said over the weekend on Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures, pointing to Johnson’s deals with Democrats to pass a budget. The Georgia Congresswoman doubled down on the comments on Monday on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast, War Room. 

“They are absolutely done with Republican leadership like Mike Johnson, who totally sold us out to the Democrats, joined the uni-party faster than anyone we’ve ever seen in history, and literally made a night-and-day change in a matter of months,” Greene told Bannon.

Greene also claimed to Bannon that the Republican base feels “betrayed” by Johnson over his support for Ukraine aid and that Republican voters want a new leader who will advance Trump’s agenda—ironically, all while Trump has been giving Johnson glowing reviews.

Earlier this month, the former president and presumed Republican presidential nominee personally hosted Johnson at an event at Mar-a-Lago, where he said Johnson is “doing a really good job under very tough circumstances.” So! It doesn’t make much sense for Greene to campaign against Johnson by calling for a more Trump-aligned Speaker.

Greene’s brash talk about the end of Johnson’s career is even funnier in the context of what other far-right House Republicans have been saying about the Speaker. “My judgment and estimation is that this is not the time to do that,” Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), head of the far-right Freedom Caucus, said last week of Greene’s calls to vacate Johnson. Good specifically pointed to the election in November, suggesting the caucus could search for new leadership after but not before. “I think we do the best we can with the Speaker that we have: influence him to the best of our ability… and have a contest to see who the conference can coalesce around as the best option in November.”

“I think a motion to vacate right now would almost certainly turn the House over to Democrats, and that’s why I won’t support it,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)—the architect behind McCarthy’s ousting in 2023—told reporters last week. It’s ironic for Gaetz to suddenly concern himself with the strength of his caucus given the weeks of turbulence he plunged House Republicans into by removing McCarthy. But I guess even he can see that another bout of last fall’s theatrics would hardly help his party come November.

Greene momentarily found some support when Johnson recently suggested rule changes that would make it more difficult to remove a House Speaker, prompting Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Gaetz to eye a challenge to his power. But Johnson backed away from the proposed rule changes, and House Republicans have pretty firmly coalesced around him, at least for right now.

So it’s just Greene and two of her far-right colleagues, Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), expressing interest in Johnson’s removal. “The weakest argument in defense of Speaker Johnson is ‘It’s a razor thin majority; you can’t get everything you want.’ We don’t expect to get everything, but we also won’t tolerate complete & total surrender,” Massie wrote in a Tuesday morning tweet. And on Friday, Gosar signed onto Greene’s effort.

But Greene’s push against Johnson is effectively doomed by the fact that, according to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries speaking to reporters last week, House Democrats would bail Johnson out of any Republican-led effort to oust him, out of concern that Johnson’s removal could give way to an even further-right Speaker.

Alas, Greene’s bluster and talk show appearances are unlikely to amount to anything more than a public nuisance for the caucus at a time when the party’s hold over the House is incredibly tenuous, and with a pivotal election coming up. As for where Johnson is in all of this, the Speaker said over the weekend that he doesn’t walk around the Capitol “being worried about a motion to vacate.” He explained, “I have to do my job. We did. I’ve done here what I believe to be the right thing, and that is to allow the House to work its will. And as I’ve said, you do the right thing and you let the chips fall where they may, and I’ll continue to do that.” All fair, but if I were him, I’d watch my back: Greene is a joke—but House Republicans famously love to eat their own with little warning.

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