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Johnson Melancholia

mike johnson
Johnson has now demonstrated that it’s possible to simply bypass the Complainer Caucus when he’s faced with must-pass legislation, even if that means bailing on supposedly critical G.O.P. agenda items and frustrating the base. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
Tina Nguyen
March 27, 2024

For House Republicans, this week marks one of the first true recesses since Kevin McCarthy was ousted last October: Two weeks at home, away from the Capitol Hill pressure cooker, without the looming specter of a speaker election or government shutdown. But it’s also the first time I’ve reached out to my conservative sources—a typically wrathful, perpetually vengeance-minded crew—and found them to be… depressed. “[Our options] are pretty weak so far,” one Republican ally told me, when I asked whether they’d started plotting ways to punish Speaker Mike Johnson for ramming through yet another budget with the help of Democrats. “I mean, they don’t have the votes for anything.

That includes a viable right-wing plot to vacate the speakership and send Johnson packing. Sure, Marjorie Taylor Greene filed a symbolic motion-to-vacate last Friday, after Johnson waved through the latest minibus over the protests of the hardliners who barely had time to read the bill, much less organize the opposition. And yes, if she manages to get two or three people onboard, she could technically vacate Johnson. (Right now, Greene is on the Twitter warpath, accusing Johnson of funding full-term abortion clinics, and the F.B.I.’s deep-state witch hunting machinery, among other things.) But the members who can think more than two weeks ahead are cold on the idea. “Maybe you’ll have, like, an Eli Crane” backing Greene and an M.T.V., a MAGA-aligned House aide told me. “But Matt Gaetz isn’t going to support it. Byron Donalds isn’t going to support it. [House Freedom Caucus chair] Bob Good, I don’t think he’s there.”