Greene renews threat to Johnson’s speakership with letter to House GOP

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) renewed her threat Tuesday to remove Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) from House leadership in a lengthy and biting letter sent to her Republican colleagues.

Greene has threatened to remove Johnson from the speaker’s office after Johnson opted to work with Democrats to pass significant pieces of appropriations bills that conservative members of the Republican conference opposed, but the Georgia congresswoman has not yet brought her motion to vacate Johnson’s speakership to a vote. Additionally, members of both parties have made it clear in recent weeks that they’re not interested in ousting Johnson from the speakership, arguing that neither party wants to see the House get thrown into chaos once again over Republican infighting.

Still, in the five-page letter, Greene detailed how she believes Johnson — who was elected as speaker in October after three weeks of party turmoil — has failed the GOP conference. Most notably, Greene accused the speaker of failing to follow the governing rules to which Republicans had agreed, and she alleged that he worked to advance the Democrats’ agenda rather than his own party’s.

“Mike Johnson worked with [Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.)] rather than with us, and gave Joe Biden and the Democrats everything they wanted — no different from how a Speaker Hakeem Jeffries would have done,” Greene wrote, referring the New York Democrat who serves as House minority leader.

Last month, as House lawmakers left Washington for a two-week recess, Greene filed a motion to remove Johnson from the speaker’s office but did not bring the effort to the vote. She said her actions were merely a “warning” for the speaker, who had just worked with Democrats to pass a $1.2 trillion funding package to keep the government open.

At the time, Greene did not give a specific timeline for her ouster effort, simply telling reporters that she had “started the clock to start the process to elect a new speaker.”

Speaking to constituents in Whitfield County, Ga., on Monday, Greene said Johnson failed to ensure “total transparency” in the policymaking process by collaborating with Democrats and Senate Republicans on funding bills and then not giving House Republicans 72 hours to read the final product.

The “most egregious thing he did,” she argued, “was he tied our hands behind our backs and would not let us make amendments.” Greene said that through amendments, she and other Republicans would have stopped Congress from funding policies she says align with President Biden’s agenda.

The motion to vacate is the same tool eight far-right Republicans, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), used last fall to remove then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from office — the first time a sitting House speaker had been deposed — after he ignored the far right’s demands to shut down the government and relied on Democrats to pass a short-term funding measure. All Democrats and those eight Republicans voted to remove McCarthy from office, and it took several weeks (and three failed speaker candidates) before Johnson was elected to replace McCarthy.

The Republican conference kept the same governing rules, including one that allowed any member to force a motion to vacate vote over deposing the House speaker, which, if introduced under special rules, can happen 48 hours after being introduced.

In her Tuesday letter, Greene did not indicate when she plans to move ahead with the motion to vacate. Additionally, no Republicans have publicly backed the effort.

Greene, however, made clear that she intends to follow through on her threat, telling The Washington Post in an interview published Monday that “more Republicans” will support the effort to oust Johnson “if he passes that $60 billion to Ukraine, and then follows up with FISA reauthorization,” referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. By collaborating with Democrats to pass large funding packages, Johnson is no longer acting like the conservative he once was, Greene argued.

“He’s a conservative and had a proven conservative voting record — until he became speaker,” Greene told The Post last Thursday. “Now that he’s become speaker of the House, many of us don’t even know who Mike Johnson is anymore.”

In the letter, Greene told her colleagues that “if these actions by the leader of our conference continue, then we are not a Republican Party — we are a Uniparty that is hellbent on remaining on the path of self-inflicted destruction.”

“I will neither support nor take part in any of that, and neither will the people we represent,” she wrote.

Spokesmen for Johnson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Greene’s letter. In a statement to The Post on Monday, Johnson said he “respects Marjorie” and acknowledged that they have “differences on strategy sometimes but share the same conservative beliefs.” Johnson declined to respond to reporters’ questions on Greene’s letter Tuesday at the Capitol.

The Post reported Monday that Republicans from across the spectrum declined to endorse Greene’s motion. Rep. Chip Roy (Tex.), a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus, said he’s focused on working with Johnson on border policy. Rep. Dusty Johnson (S.D.), chair of the conservative Main Street Caucus, said Greene’s motion is a “terrible threat” to Johnson, who he said is “honestly trying to figure out a way forward.”

Even Gaetz, who introduced the motion to oust McCarthy, ruled out supporting Greene’s push to vacate Johnson’s speakership.

Speaking to her Georgia constituents Monday, Greene acknowledged that it’s been a “tough year for Republicans in Congress” because of “bitter battles with one another.”

But, she argued, “anyone that serves in leadership in America should be prepared to battle for what is right.”

“We should be prepared to fight it out with one another, we should be prepared to find common ground,” she said. “But that has not happened this Congress. As a matter of fact, our Republican House majority has failed completely.”

Marianna Sotomayor contributed to this report.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post