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Marjorie Taylor Greene isn't so powerful after all

Bryan Metzger   

Marjorie Taylor Greene isn't so powerful after all
  • MTG's backing off her threat to force a vote on ousting Speaker Mike Johnson — for now.
  • It's going to fail anyway, Trump is against it, and it looks like she's trying to save face.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene moved to call a vote on Johnson's ouster in a surprise move on Wednesday afternoon. 163 Democrats voted with all but 11 Republicans to table it.

This was a surprise, with previous indications that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was backing off her threat to oust Speaker Mike Johnson — for now.

After two days of meetings with Johnson, the Georgia Republican, along with Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, told reporters outside the Capitol on Tuesday that the ball's now in the speaker's court to satisfy her demands. She did not specify a timeline for him to do so.

Those demands — which vary from the obvious to the outlandish — include the following:

  • Don't give Ukraine more aid for the rest of the year. It was already unlikely that Ukraine aid would come up again this year after Congress approved another $60 billion last month.
  • Don't hold votes on bills that most Republicans don't support. House Republicans already have a rule requiring this, though it's been violated a number of times, including on Ukraine aid.
  • Defund the Justice Department's special-counsel investigation into former President Donald Trump. It goes without saying that this won't happen — President Joe Biden and the Democratic-controlled Senate won't accept it, and it's far from clear that every House Republican would either.
  • Pass a stopgap government-funding bill before the election that cuts spending by 1%. This one is feasible, though a relatively small demand over which to threaten a speaker's ouster.

Since Greene arrived in Congress in 2021, her power has come from her relationship with Trump, as well as the notion that — whatever her GOP colleagues might think of her — she has a closeness to the party's activist base that many of them do not.

That's why former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy worked hard to elevate her and bring her into the fold when Republicans retook the majority.

Yet in this latest crusade, which has seemingly consumed Greene for the past 1 ½ months, she largely stands alone. Trump, according to several reports, opposes Greene's bid to hold her vote. And if her Republican colleagues are facing pressure at home to join her, they sure aren't acting like it: Just two other House Republicans have sided with her effort to throw out Johnson.

The congresswoman's ouster effort was already doomed to fail, given House Democrats' move to protect him. Amid the delays with Greene, both Democrats and Republicans have largely made up their mind on where they stand on the issue, sapping her bid to put lawmakers on record of much revelatory power.

It's still unclear whether she will ultimately force the vote, but at this point, no one's all that worried. Republicans would likely put the matter to bed quickly, holding the vote immediately after she forced it and moving on to other matters.

And on Tuesday, when asked about Greene's demands, Johnson rolled his eyes.

"This is not a negotiation," he said. "I'm doing my job, and part of the job is taking suggestions and thoughtful ideas from members, and that's what we're doing here.

Update: This story was updated on Wednesday, May 8, after Greene surprised the House by reversing course and introducing a motion to oust Johnson, which was quashed.

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