Apr 10, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Marjorie Taylor Greene stirs GOP turmoil with Mike Johnson threats

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, wearing a black jacket and holding an iphone, speaks to reporters outside the Capitol.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Photo: Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images.

Republican lawmakers' reactions to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's (R-Ga.) latest screed against House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Tuesday ranged from exasperation to outright hostility.

Why it matters: The antagonistic responses offer a glimpse at the internal headwinds pushing back against Greene as she threatens to force a vote to remove Johnson as speaker.

  • "I think that most people are exhausted," one House Republican told Axios of Greene's threats.
  • "Don't bother us. Airing your grievances is unnecessary."

Driving the news: Greene sent a five-page "dear colleague" letter to fellow Republicans on Tuesday morning laying out the case for Johnson's removal.

  • Greene took aim at the House's passage of a bipartisan spending bill last month and Johnson's plan to hold a vote on Ukraine aid – which she has said would be the trigger for her motion to vacate.
  • "If these actions by the leader of our conference continue, then we are not a Republican party— we are a Uniparty ... I will neither support nor take part in any of that, and neither will the people we represent," she wrote.

The latest: In interviews with Axios on Tuesday evening, more than a dozen House Republicans from across the party's ideological spectrum said they either skimmed the letter or hadn't read it at all.

  • "I glanced at it," said Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.), adding, "I didn't think much of it."
  • Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), asked if he read the letter, quipped, "I'm glad to say I was on the plane."
  • "I don't plan to read it and I don't plan to support her," said Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.).
  • "I have no idea what you're talking about," said Rep. Mike Carey (R-Ohio) when asked about the letter, adding, "whatever. I mean, it's worthless ... I'm not going to support that" and calling Greene's threats "absolutely ridiculous."

Zoom in: Even members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus, many of whom share Greene's frustrations with Johnson, either brushed off or side-stepped her attempts to build support for her crusade.

  • Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) said he "didn't read" the letter and "I don't think a motion to vacate makes any sense whatsoever."
  • "I have not looked at it yet," said Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good (R-Va.), adding, "I don't have any comment on anything she does."
  • Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) said Greene "does have some good ideas" but "it's time for us to be united on something, and our votes [on legislation] show where we are."

Between the lines: Greene's effort, like Rep. Matt Gaetz's (R-Fla.) successful push to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), is engendering anger from some corners of the conference.

  • "We don't like this. We saw what happened in October and January. It's wrong," said Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), referring to the two protracted speaker elections last year.
  • "It's wrong. It weakens the team. It creates anarchy, creates chaos."

Yes, but: Not everyone is unsympathetic to her complaints.

  • "I think Marjorie is smart, I think Marjorie is very dedicated to her job ... she's frustrated. I just came back from two weeks in the district, I've got a lot of frustrated constituents," said Rep. Dan Meuser (R-Pa.).
  • "They want to see us be tough."

What she's saying: "Listen, Mike Johnson has thrown us into chaos ... He funded the Biden administration's agenda, that is chaos for a Republican majority," Greene told reporters.

  • Of accusations from colleagues that she is just trying to grab attention, Greene said: "If I had wanted attention ... I would've been on the bandwagon to oust Kevin McCarthy. I wasn't a part of that. I support my conference."
Go deeper