Marjorie Taylor Greene backs away from imminent threat to oust speaker

Washington — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene appeared to retreat from her threat to imminently trigger a vote to remove Speaker Mike Johnson as House leader after lengthy meetings with him this week.

“Right now the ball is in Mike Johnson’s court,” Greene said Tuesday. She added that the timeframe for following through on her promise to force a vote is “up to Mike Johnson and it can’t drag out.” 

She said Johnson was not given a “specific timeline, but it’s pretty short.” 

Greene met Monday and Tuesday with Johnson as the Georgia Republican weighed the exact timing of forcing a vote to remove him from leadership. Greene said last Wednesday she would start the clock on a vote to overthrow Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, this week after dangling the threat since March. 

Rep. Greene Expected To Trigger Motion To Vacate Speaker Johnson This Week
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Rep. Thomas Massie speak to members of the press on the steps of the U.S. Capitol after a meeting with House Speaker Mike Johnson on May 7, 2024, in Washington, D.C. 

Kent Nishimura / Getty Images

But she emerged from the meetings to offer few details about her plans to force a vote, signaling that tensions could be cooling — at least until he makes another misstep in the eyes of the far-right. 

Greene demanded that Johnson promise no more aid for Ukraine, no bill be brought to the floor unless the majority of Republicans support it, stripping funding for Justice Department investigations into former President Donald Trump and automatic spending cuts if the 12 appropriations bills are not passed individually. 

“I have high expectations and they have to be met in full,” Greene said in an interview with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon on his “War Room” podcast before Tuesday’s meeting. “There is no middle ground, there is no compromise.” 

Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, said Tuesday the initial conversation was “productive” and “it was not a negotiation.” He also described the second meeting as “productive” and said he was “optimistic” about finding a resolution on the suggestions. They did not have more meetings scheduled, he said. 

“I take Marjorie’s ideas and Thomas’ and everybody else’s equally and we assess them on their own value, and where we can make improvements and changes and all of that, we do. That’s what this is. There’s nothing more than that going on,” he said Tuesday morning. 

Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican, joined both meetings. He and GOP Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona are the only two Republicans who have publicly backed Greene’s effort at this point. 

Johnson has repeatedly noted that he’s leading a divided majority with a one-vote margin. Special elections in May and June to fill the seats of Republicans who retired in recent months are expected to help give more cushion to the GOP majority.  

If Greene does eventually trigger a vote, Johnson is expected to survive the attempt to strip him of the gavel thanks to Democratic support that puts him in a stronger position despite the GOP’s razor-thin margin of control. Democrats said they would thwart the effort to remove him after he defied conservative members of his party to support more aid to Ukraine.

Democrats offering to help a GOP leader keep his power demonstrates how far conservatives’ unwillingness to compromise has pushed the House toward this unique moment. But Democrats say the move is more about beating back the far right than saving Johnson. 

“Our view would traditionally be, ‘Let the other side work its own mess out,'” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat, recently told “60 Minutes.” “But when that mess starts to impact the ability to do the job on behalf of the American people, then the responsible thing at that moment might be for us to make clear that we will not allow the extremists to throw the Congress and the country into chaos.”

Johnson said Tuesday he expects to remain in power next year. 

“I intend to lead this conference in the future,” he said at his weekly news conference. “I expect I’ll be doing that in the future. I’m glad to have the support of President Trump.” 

Nikole Killion and Jaala Brown contributed reporting. 

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