Marjorie Taylor Greene Chickens Out On Moving Against Mike Johnson

WASHINGTON — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said last week that she would force the House of Representatives to hold a referendum on whether to oust Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) this week, but so far she’s not doing it.

Greene emerged from a meeting with Johnson on Tuesday saying that “the ball is in Mike Johnson’s court” to act on a set of “suggestions” for running the House that she and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) presented to the speaker.

Asked about the timeline for Johnson to respond, Greene wouldn’t be specific.

“That’s up to Mike Johnson, and it can’t drag out,” she said. “These are things that have to be done.”

The suggestions — Greene and Massie have insisted that they aren’t demands — include only allowing votes on bills with support from a majority of Republicans, not providing further funding for Ukraine, and defunding the special counsel prosecuting former President Donald Trump.

Only two Republicans have said that they would support Greene’s move against Johnson, while Democrats have said that they would vote to bail out Johnson, meaning her resolution would certainly fail. But she said she would do it anyway to show that Johnson was effectively a Democrat.

It’s not clear if Greene wants a handshake from Johnson, some sort of written pledge, or what.

“Obviously, you can’t make things happen instantly, and we all are aware and understanding of that,” Greene said. “So now the ball is in his court and he’s supposed to be reaching out to us, hopefully soon.”

Johnson, for his part, said Tuesday that his talks with Greene and Massie are “not a negotiation,” and that he has similar meetings with members from all over the Republican conference.

And Johnson said the idea of reining in special counsels is something that Republicans have wanted to do for a while, before Greene and Massie made their suggestion.

“There’s discussion this week, as there has been for a long, long time, about what is the most effective way for Congress to take the reins of that and ensure that the special counsels are not abusing the law themselves,” Johnson said.

In other words, Johnson, who has previously said that Greene’s ouster threat is bad for the Republican party and the country, has offered no concession to Greene except for meeting with her in his office.

The problem is, Republicans have very few bargaining chips with which to try to force Democrats to agree to any of Greene’s demands, unlike earlier in the year when the government needed funding. The last must-pass bill before fall is for reauthorizing federal aviation programs. That legislation could wind up being targeted, though, to carry any concessions Johnson may agree to, and it was reportedly discussed by Johnson and Greene at Tuesday’s meeting.

While Greene warned Johnson against dragging the dispute out, she started the fight back on March 22, when she filed the initial motion to toss him from the speaker’s chair. Then she described it as a warning shot to get Johnson to fight harder against Democrats, and she has publicly warned several times since then that she would ask for a vote. She particularly warned Johnson against allowing a vote on aid to Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion, but he did it anyway.

Greene and many other Republicans who are angry but do not support her move are upset over Johnson allowing floor votes on an annual spending deal, government authority to spy on foreigners abroad and a $61 billion Ukraine aid package, as well as his tacit acceptance of Democratic help to stay in power.

Asked why she said last week that she would force the vote on her “motion to vacate” this week but isn’t doing so, Greene said that she’s just being patient.

“What I’m trying to do is give Mike Johnson a chance to be a Republican speaker, and he seems willing to try to do that again,” she said.