GOP worries its problems will outlive Greene’s ineffective motion

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) ineffectual effort to oust Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) was a big anticlimax, but one that could have reverberations much longer than the 35 minutes it took the House to dispense with her motion to vacate.

The weighty consequences range from how Johnson can possibly lead his warring factions through the coming legislative battles after being propped up by Democrats, to how it might shape this fall’s elections and the House’s power dynamics.

Coming out of the Wednesday vote, frustrated Republicans said the extent of the fallout won’t be known for some time. But it was immediately clear, some added, that the internal brawling does nothing to boost the GOP’s image in the eyes of voters.

“Absolutely, this is damaging to the Republican Party,” said Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.).

And even with Greene’s gambit is in the rearview mirror, the Republican-vs.-Republican clashes may not be over.

Greene has not ruled out the possibility of bringing yet another vacate motion to the floor in the future.

And moderate Republicans — who have been furious with the rabble-rousing tactics of their conservative colleagues all Congress — quickly aimed their fire at Greene and the 10 GOP lawmakers who joined her in voting against tabling the removal resolution, vowing consequences for the group after they put the House, and GOP conference, at risk of more dysfunction.

“The people that are causing the chaos will have to be held accountable for that,” Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.) said shortly after the vote.

Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), who has been an outspoken critic of the right-flank for months, said Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), a co-sponsor of the motion to vacate, and Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), who opposed tabling the resolution, should be “immediately removed” from the powerful House Rules Committee, which plays a key role in determining what legislation makes it to the floor. He also floated booting others in the group of 11 from their respective panels.

“You need to have consequences for actions,” Lawler said. “People need to be held accountable.”

The internal battle is happening at an inopportune time for GOP leaders, who have hoped to bridge the party’s differences and focus their attention on President Biden’s handling of the border and economy. Instead, they’ve been forced to tamp down an in-house revolt that even some of Johnson’s sharpest critics opposed so close to the elections.

“I think it’s a bad idea right now,” said Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.).

Hoping to discourage another Speakership challenge, a number of Republicans are already discussing a change in House rules so that no one lawmaker would have the power to force a motion to vacate vote on the House floor.

The rule was put in place as part of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) negotiations to take power. It was then used to oust him 10 months later.

“The rule has been abused,” Scott said. “The place can’t function if you’re changing the Speaker of the House every six months.”

That modification, however, would likely prompt more infighting within the House GOP ranks, pitting hard-liners, who want to protect the one-member threshold, against moderates eager to change the chaos-inducing rule.

The conference got a taste of that battle last month when Johnson — in the midst of Greene’s ouster threat — reportedly deliberated changing the rule, only to face an onslaught of Republicans threatening to vacate him if he went ahead. The Speaker ultimately abandoned the idea.

Greene, for her part, is brushing off the threat of retribution — especially the warning about losing her committee assignments — casting the prospect as a been-there-done-that danger after being removed from her committees during her first month in office, when Democrats controlled the chamber.

“They probably want to kick me off committees, they probably want to primary. I say, go ahead,” she declared after the vote. “They probably want to do all kinds of things, and you know what, that’s their problems.”

Johnson, ever soft-spoken, says he’s ready to move on, vowing he won’t hold Greene’s effort against her.

“I don’t hold grudges,” he told “Fox and Friends” the morning after the vote.

Yet Greene is hardly the only Johnson critic in the House GOP. And a number of conservatives — even those who opposed Greene’s removal gambit — say they won’t support the Speaker’s already stated goal of remaining the leader of his party in the next Congress.

Those lawmakers share Greene’s frustrations with Johnson’s track record of forging bipartisan agreements with Biden on major legislation, and they’re ready to hold him to account for the deals he endorses — a form of warning ahead of yet another government funding debate, which will come to a head in September.

For those figures, Johnson’s rescue by Democrats won’t soon be forgotten.

“Mike has maintained the status quo of growing the national debt and passing America Last legislation,” said Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), who voted in support of sending Greene’s motion to the floor, in a statement. “The Democratic Conference made clear their intention to save his speakership, but I found it necessary to cast my vote in a manner that expresses my frustration with the Speaker’s lack of conservative leadership.”

Roy, another critic of Johnson’s leadership style, delivered a similar denouncement, knocking the Speaker for backing away from promises to cut spending and secure the southern border.

“Speaker Johnson remains a friend,” Roy said in a statement. “However, as I said when I voted for Mike in October, I am committed to holding him — and any other member of Republican leadership — accountable to do what we said we would do.”

For all the infighting and ire this week, one relationship that does not appear to have been tarnished is that between Greene and former President Trump, a surprising outcome considering the two GOP figures found themselves on opposite ends of the bitter motion-to-vacate battle.

Trump, who frequently wades into hot-button debates on Capitol Hill, expressed support for Johnson on a number of occasions amid the ouster threat — including during a joint appearance at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida — a gut punch for Greene, who considers herself a close ally of the former president.

Greene, nonetheless, plowed ahead with her removal mission, pulling the trigger Wednesday even after Trump urged her to abandon her effort and stressed unity during a Sunday phone call.

But despite that collision course, the bond between Greene and Trump is seemingly safe.

In a Truth Social post urging Republicans to vote to table the motion to vacate — which published minutes after the successful vote — Trump said “I absolutely love Marjorie Taylor Greene,” predicting “she’ll be around, and on our side, for a long time to come.”

And Greene, who launched her explosive political career on the shoulders of Trump, thanked the former president for his support, despite his efforts to derail her entire crusade.

“I’m really thankful for President Trump’s support,” Greene told reporters after the failed vote. “He put out a statement today — and it came, unfortunately, after the vote, I think it was a little late — but I’m thankful for his support.”

“I support him.”

Filip Timotija contributed.

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