Apr 21, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Marjorie Taylor Greene blinks on Mike Johnson ouster campaign

(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Weeks of threats to oust Johnson over Ukraine aid fizzled Saturday when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene left town without pulling the trigger.

Why it matters: Greene is still talking the talk, but momentum for an ouster effort against Speaker Mike Johnson that seemed certain now has no timeline and no new endorsers.

  • Greene said she will "go home and hear from their constituents" before making her decision following weeks of threats to force a vote to oust him.
  • "He needs to do the right thing and resign ... If he doesn't do so, he will be vacated," Greene said Sunday on Fox News.
  • "When John Boehner was replaced, it wasn't by a motion to vacate on the floor" but rather his pre-announced resignation, said Rep. Thomas Massie, who joined Greene on the motion to vacate.

Zoom in: "I think it strengthens him — he showed strength," Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) told Axios about Johnson bringing the motion to the floor despite his party's opposition.

  • "He's a real Reagan Republican. It reminds me of Reagan's handling of Gorbachev," said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.).

The big picture: As his party's fourth choice for a speaker — after Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan — Johnson has repeatedly gone bipartisan.

  • April 20: Johnson muscled through $60+ billion in Ukraine aid despite a majority of Republicans trying to block it on three different votes.

Between the lines: Opposition from conservatives has weakened Johnson's hand in negotiations, moderate House Republicans told Axios.

  • "Truthfully they might prefer losing," one House Republican said of conservative hardliners.
  • "[We] could have gotten the Democrats to fold on a variety of border policy changes. ... But in the end, we lost our leverage because we weren't negotiating as a majority," another House Republican told Axios.

What's next: House insiders expect Johnson to largely run out the clock until November, with lots of extra recess time.

Go deeper