Nov 14, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Marjorie Taylor Greene breaks with far-right allies on McCarthy challenge

Marjorie Taylor Greene and Kevin McCarthy

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) signaled Monday she will vote to elect GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as House speaker, criticizing efforts by other right-wing Republicans to challenge his bid as "risky" and a "bad strategy."

Why it matters: Greene, despite a history of incendiary statements and conspiracy theories that led to the removal of her committee assignments in 2021, is one of the most influential Republicans in the House.

  • McCarthy has invested heavily in his relationship with Greene, meeting with her weekly and promising to reinstate her committee assignments if Republicans take back the majority.
  • Greene's defense of McCarthy at a time when he's so vulnerable will be richly rewarded if he becomes speaker — likely with a plum position on the powerful House Oversight Committee.

What they're saying: "I actually think that's a bad strategy when we're looking at having a very razor-thin majority, with potentially 219 [seats], we're talking about one vote," Greene said on Steve Bannon's "War Room" podcast in response to reports of a speaker challenge by House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.).

  • Greene warned that some moderate Republicans could join forces with Democrats and elect outgoing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) — a fierce Trump critic who lost her GOP primary as a result of her impeachment vote — to the speaker position, which requires 218 votes.
  • "We've already been through two years where we saw Republicans — Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger — cross over and join the Democrats and produce a Jan. 6 committee," Greene said.
  • "The danger is this, do we want to watch a challenge for Speaker of the House simply because the 'Never Kevin' movement — just like we've seen a 'Never Trump" movement — do we want to see that challenge open the door to Nancy Pelosi handing the gavel to Liz Cheney?"

Context: The Constitution does not technically require the speaker to be a member of the House, although every speaker in history has been.

What to watch: Some right-wing members and outside conservative groups have called on McCarthy to delay House leadership elections, which are set to take place on Tuesday despite the final makeup of the House still being undecided.

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