Taylor Greene goes off half-cocked on Mike Johnson, but she may be playing Russian roulette

by 24USATVMarch 25, 2024, 9:01 p.m. 21
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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., made a motion to vacate House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., as speaker last Friday, effectively putting him on notice. But she may want to check her math a little more carefully before following through on her threat.

Following last Friday’s approval of a government spending bill that funds programs up to this fall, Greene has called for Johnson’s removal over what she deems his insufficient loyalty to the MAGA movement. Specifically, she’s accused him of defying a House Republican rule that requires bills be given 72 hours of review before authorizing a vote. But her motion to vacate seems to be just an intimidation tactic — at least, so far.

Since the bill was announced, Greene has spent much of her time railing against Johnson both on her social platforms (she tweeted Monday that “Johnson can NOT be Speaker of the House”) and on conservative media. During an appearance on Steve Bannon’s podcast last Friday, Greene suggested that other Republican lawmakers who supported the bill would pay a price with their constituents. “[T]hey’re going to go back home for our two-week recess over Easter, and they are going to be absolutely obliterated by their districts,” Greene said.

But her rhetoric has been confusing. On Friday, Greene told Newsmax she doesn’t want to "throw our House into chaos" (though her half-cocked motion is already causing dissension in the Republican caucus). After filing the motion last week, she told the press it was meant as a "more of a warning than a pink slip" for Johnson, suggesting she was using it to merely keep him in check.

On Newsmax over the weekend, Tennessee Rep. Tim Burchett said he’d talked to Greene and “she’s not moving with it — it’s just there, and it’s in place, and she can pull the trigger when she wants to.”

There are some reasons why Greene may want to avoid actually following through on her threat by bringing the motion to vacate. The GOP majority in the House is set to shrink even further when Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher steps down in mid-April. And as my colleague Steve Benen wrote, Greene may want to hold her fire because it's unclear what Democrats would do if the motion to vacate is put to a vote: They could either vote to oust Johnson and fuel the chaos Greene claims she wants to avoid, or, as some Dems have suggested, they could support Johnson if he agrees to allow a vote on aid for Ukraine.

The uncertainty of the outcome may deter the Georgia rep from moving forward. And will she want to risk the gun blowing up in hand if she does decide to pull that trigger?

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