House Republicans Set The Stage For Another Total Meltdown

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene seized the spotlight with a threat to oust Speaker Mike Johnson, but it’s unclear if she’ll go through with it.

WASHINGTON ― The House of Representatives could be on the brink of another meltdown brought on by Republican infighting.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has threatened to trigger a no-confidence vote against House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) in a repeat of the leadership squabble that turned the House into a circus for several weeks last fall.

It’s essentially the same drama as before: Greene and other House hard-liners are mad at Johnson for avoiding a government shutdown by allowing the House to vote on a funding bill that passed with Democratic support.

“Mike Johnson worked with [Democratic Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer rather than with us, and gave Joe Biden and the Democrats everything they wanted,” Greene wrote in a Tuesday letter that complained about the government’s supposed “trans agenda” and the legal plight of Donald Trump supporters who rioted at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Greene and members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus argue that if Johnson drove a harder bargain with Democrats, who control the Senate and the White House, Republicans would force them to accept GOP policy priorities. In reality, the likelier outcome would be a government shutdown that voters would blame on Republicans.

Last month, Greene filed a resolution to oust Johnson, but declined to force a vote, describing her move as a warning. Her letter on Tuesday amplified the warning but didn’t say if she would invoke the “privilege” afforded to House members to make the vote actually happen.

Without saying so directly, Greene suggested Johnson’s fate could hinge on whether he allows the House to vote on a $60 billion military aid package to help Ukraine defend itself from Russia’s invasion. The money is a top priority for many lawmakers in both parties, but Greene and a faction of far-right Republicans oppose it.

“Recent polling shows that 70% of Americans want a peace deal in Ukraine, not to send them more of their hard-earned tax-dollars,” Greene wrote, referring to a February survey from Harris Poll and the Quincy Institute.

In another recent survey, by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 62% of Americans said either that the U.S. should take a more active role in the Ukraine-Russia war or that current U.S. involvement is about right.

Johnson has not said whether a Ukraine vote will happen. A spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In October, when Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) forced a snap referendum on Johnson’s predecessor in the speaker’s office, former Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calf.), eight Republicans voted with all Democrats to declare the speaker’s office vacant, leaving the House with no leader. It took Republicans three weeks to finally settle on Johnson after considering several other candidates. During that time, the House essentially ceased to function as a legislative body.

Greene opposed ousting McCarthy. In October, she complained that “eight of our Republicans joined with all the Democrats and ousted our speaker,” though her threat to force Johnson out could result in a similar bipartisan outcome.

There’s no clear alternative to Johnson today. It’s also not clear how many Republicans would be willing to risk a repeat of October’s chaos, and it’s possible some Democrats would be willing to save Johnson by voting against Greene’s resolution.

Even without forcing the vote, Greene has succeeded in making herself the center of attention at the Capitol. McCarthy, for his part, called her “a very serious legislator” in an interview this weekend.

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