April 18, 2024

As Greene Plots Against Johnson, Conservatives Warn: ‘What an Absolute Way to Let the Far-Left Win’

“It’s not helpful to the cause. It’s not helpful to the country.”

By Suzanne Bowdey

Even under the best of circumstances, sitting in the pressure cooker of the House speakership was never something Mike Johnson (R-La.) wanted. “This was not a job that I aspired to, Tony,” he told Family Research Council’s president during Saturday’s interview. But ironically, it’s a job his own party seems determined to take from him.

The soap opera that is the House GOP took another dramatic turn Tuesday when Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) announced that he supported the motion to oust the speaker over the Louisianan’s decision to parcel out foreign aid for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan into bills that would be voted on separately. Johnson’s idea was to roll all of the aid into one package under a seldom-used rule (MIRV) that specifies if one bill passes, they can all be merged. 

Conservatives grumbled, pointing out that “the least popular option is the one that wins.” Basically, they argued, Israeli funding will still be held hostage to Ukraine aid. While others tried to have a constructive debate over bundling the bills, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) snapped, insisting in a long rant to Breitbart that Johnson’s time as speaker is “over.” “He’s just the only one who hasn’t acknowledged it.” 

With the exception of a few honeymoon weeks after his election, the hot seat is a place Johnson calls home. He’s been attacked, undermined, and held hostage by his own party for more than six months, so the threat of losing the gavel is something the speaker has learned to live with. During a press conference Tuesday, he responded to Massie’s call for him to flat-out quit. “I am not resigning,” Johnson wanted people to know, “and it is my view [that it’s] an absurd notion that someone would bring a motion to vacate when we are simply here trying to do our jobs.” 

Frankly, Johnson said, “It’s not helpful to the cause. It’s not helpful to the country. It does not help the House Republicans advance our agenda, which is in the best interest of the American people. … And,” he added, “it’s not helpful to the unity that we have in the body.” 

Is his solution for Israeli aid a perfect one? Absolutely not. But it may be a necessary one, Dr. Greg Murphy (R-N.C.) pointed out on “Washington Watch” Tuesday. The situation is urgent in the Jewish state, and Democrats — who control two of the three levers of power with the Senate and White House — continue to block the help Republicans have tried to send. 

“I think there’s uniformity in supporting Israel,” Murphy explained of the GOP. “But there is some discrepancy about supporting Ukraine. And so the speaker said, ‘All right, well, I’m going to set it up into separate bills. You don’t like something, don’t vote for it. But if you like something else, vote for it.’ I think it’s a very judicious approach. The same thing with Taiwan and the same thing with our national security package. We have to let the votes come to the floor.”

It gives members an opportunity to be on the record with their support or opposition — but it also ensures that the bills won’t be stuck in political limbo, as they have been for months, never to pass. In Murphy’s mind, if rabble rousers like Greene refuse to support the rule and stop the legislation from moving forward, they’re hijacking the entire process. 

“I have a major issue [with] those who … vote against the rule, because they’re basically saying that their vote matters more than my vote, and that my 800,000 constituents are canceled. It’s an absolute perverse way to go about getting your way,” he argued, “and people have to learn [that] we live in a democratic republic. We each get a vote, and if you don’t win, you don’t win. You don’t tear down the house. So we’re going to proceed with Israel’s apportionment. And then I believe you move to Ukraine, Taiwan, and then the security act in a fashion that really, if you don’t like it, don’t vote for it. But I think that makes perfect sense.”

To plunge the House back into chaos, leaderless, is not the solution, Murphy warned. “It makes absolutely no sense. And again, I’ll speak against the actions, not against the individual. … I think this [spells] absolute, absolute destruction [for] the Republican Party — and it’s from within,” he shook his head. “Look, if we’re going to have a hope of maintaining all the things that we’ve done, exposing the absolute criminality of the Biden administration, we have to have another turn because they’ve stonewalled us everywhere. … We just have to have folks that need to stop thinking with emotion like Democrats do, and move forward and try to do something constructive.”

“I get it,” he reiterated. “… There are strong feelings. But then again, you got to remember you took an oath to the Constitution. Your vote does not matter [more] than anybody else’s.”

Strangely enough, Democrats seem to be the reasonable party here. Whether it’s for political expediency or they’re just plain fed-up with the dysfunction, Johnson’s life-raft may come from an unusual place. To Axios, a number of Democrats “reiterated their opposition to ousting” the House speaker after Massie’s declaration. Reps. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) and Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) both said they would not help Republicans send Johnson packing. “We have to be able to govern,” Rep. Greg Landsman (D-Ohio) urged, “… so I remain very open to those committed to governing and getting this done.” A number of their caucus, they insisted, feel the same. 

Suozzi even wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed called “Democrats, Support Speaker Johnson,” telling his party, “Democrats must offer Speaker Johnson our votes to save democracy in Ukraine and here. We can’t let our partisan instincts get in our way. We must work with Republicans to disarm Mr. Putin’s puppet, get a vote to support Ukraine, and defeat Russian disinformation. Our democracy is at stake.”

What’s more, most people believe that finding another speaker would be even “more excruciating” the third time around. Axios polled House Republicans, who conceded they “don’t think anyone in their conference could lock down the gavel.”

It’s just not fair to even put members of Congress in that situation, Murphy agreed. “You know, Marjorie and I get along well, but we have a disagreement on this issue,” he admitted. “One person does not determine U.S. policy, period.” But the problem is, “[S]ome of these folks just don’t get it. They just don’t get it. We have a one-seat majority. We don’t have the Senate. We don’t have the White House. We cannot have every full-blooded, red-meat Republican agenda. We just can’t do it. It’s not physically possible. And some folks just want to tear down the government to do it. What an absolute way to let the far-left win,” he lamented. 

And again, he emphasized, “I like both of those folks,” referring to Greene and Massie. “I just disagree with their actions vehemently. I think they’re very, very myopic.”

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.

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