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The Greene Mile

Marjorie Taylor Greene
Greene has tempted fate by closely aligning herself with McCarthy, getting herself expelled from the House Freedom Caucus (for calling Lauren Boebert “a little bitch”), and then putting the motion-to-vacate gun to Johnson’s head. Photo: Megan Varner/Getty Images
Tina Nguyen
April 17, 2024

House Republicans are, once again, in various stages of revolt after embattled House Speaker Mike Johnson vowed to move ahead with plans for a Saturday evening vote on legislation that includes aid for Ukraine—a package that House Freedom Caucus chair Bob Good has said “every true conservative” must oppose. To recap: In the two months since the Senate passed its $95 billion package of security assistance for Ukraine and Israel, among others, hardliners have telegraphed that moving any variation of the Senate’s bill would put Johnson’s job in jeopardy. In late March, Marjorie Taylor Greene introduced a motion to vacate, essentially cocking (but not yet firing) the parliamentary W.M.D. that would force a vote to remove him. On Tuesday, the day after Johnson pledged to allow a vote on foreign aid, Rep. Thomas Massie seconded Greene, asking the speaker to resign.

Johnson refused, and has said he’s not worried, intuiting—perhaps correctly—that the mutineers will lose their nerve. Indeed, if you talk to conservatives on the Hill, they confess to holding two competing sentiments: On one hand, for a party in the majority (barely), they feel completely out of control of their own agenda, having been unable to advance anything since Kevin McCarthy’s ouster in October, and would happily toss Johnson off the Speaker’s Balcony if only for cathartic relief. Their grievances are manifold: the FISA renewal, a stand-alone Ukraine funding bill, a failed Israel vote, a $1.2 trillion budget that passed with Democratic votes, Johnson’s talent for caving to Chuck Schumer after promising conservatives the moon. After venting, however, they will grudgingly acknowledge that, on the other hand, a defenestration sequel is playing with fire. “Again, there is no alternative to Johnson,” a Republican insider told me, possibly for the hundredth time since murmurs about another motion to vacate started to emerge in January. “No one else can get the votes.”