Greene vs conservatives: Georgia Republican on an island

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) lonely effort to boot Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) from power is emblematic of a larger trend that’s followed the Georgia firebrand throughout her time on Capitol Hill: She might be the face of the MAGA movement in Congress, but she’s alienated a long list of fellow conservatives in getting there.

Plenty of Republican hard-liners are furious with Johnson for his willingness to compromise with Democrats on major legislation, vowing they won’t let him return to the helm of the party next year.

But if Greene’s Hail Mary effort to remove him before then has highlighted the deep divisions within the GOP, her struggles to find Republican support have revealed that those divisions are also visible within the party’s conservative wing, where even Johnson’s most vocal critics have refused to endorse Greene’s motion to vacate resolution.

The reasons are numerous — some political and some personal. But they all reflect the underlying reality that Greene is increasingly finding herself on an island, an outcast even among the hard-line populists who share her goal of transforming Washington.

“She’s pretty much operating on her own, with one or two others who have expressed support for what she’s doing,” Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), the chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, told NewsNation’s “The Hill Sunday” in an interview. “She doesn’t lead anyone.”

Good, to be sure, is no fan of Greene. The Virginia Republican voted to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), with whom Greene maintained close relations. And he backed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the GOP presidential primary over former President Trump, earning him the ire of some conservatives, like Greene, who are eager to see Trump back in the White House. The Georgia Republican, as a result, is backing Good’s primary challenger, who’s pitching himself as a Trump loyalist.

But his opposition to the current ouster effort — despite sharp disagreement with Johnson’s recent legislative play calls — reflects a much broader sentiment among the hard-liners who have forged their political brand by bucking their own leadership.

Those conservatives say Greene’s gambit, coming so close to November’s elections, would undermine the Republicans’ chances of keeping control of the House next year while empowering Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), the Democratic leader, with even more leverage than he already has.

“I don’t think this is a good move six months before an election,” Good said, later adding that “the time to have a Speaker battle is in November after the election.”

“Let’s focus on expanding the House majority, winning back the Senate, reelecting President Trump,” he added.

As a result, Greene has found only two other conservatives — Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) — to back her vacate resolution, setting the stage for it to fail on the chamber floor later in the week with the help of Democratic votes.

It’s unclear when — or even if — Greene will make good on her promise to force her vacate motion to the floor. She, along with Massie, huddled with Johnson for almost two hours Monday afternoon in the Speaker’s office, but the only message she delivered afterward was that they’d agreed to meet again Tuesday morning.

“I have been patient, I have been diligent, I have been steady, and I have been focused on the facts. And none of that has changed,” she told a mob of reporters. “So I just had a long discussion with the Speaker in his office about ways to move forward for a Republican-controlled House of Representatives. We’re talking to him again tomorrow, based on our discussion today.”

Johnson emerged with a similarly vague account.

“We have discussed some ideas, and we’re gonna meet again tomorrow. I just want to say, and I’ve told them and I’ve said this repeatedly, that I understand the frustration,” he said. “I share it.”

In the eyes of her supporters, Greene is simply acting more courageously than her conservative critics — the lone voice taking GOP leaders to task when they don’t fight hard enough for the party’s priorities. Massie, for one, characterized her as “the most serious” lawmaker in Congress.

“She’s gone about this in a very reasonable way,” Massie said last week. “She’s given the Speaker multiple chances to resign, to leave, and instead he’s clinging to power by clinging to Democrats.”

But the bad blood between Greene and the other conservative firebrands in the GOP conference has roots much deeper than the current debate over Johnson’s fate.

Greene’s relationship with the right flank of the GOP conference started to fray at the end of the last Congress, when the Georgia Republican emerged as one of McCarthy’s top supporters amid his quest for the Speakership — a stark departure from her rabble-rousing ways, and one that put her in direct opposition to hard-line conservatives who withheld their support for the GOP leader.

Those tensions hit a breaking point in July when the Freedom Caucus voted to boot Greene from the group, with members citing her cozy relationship with leadership and spats with other conservative lawmakers, including Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.). In one memorable episode, Greene called Boebert “a little bitch” on the House floor.

Since then, the Georgia Republican has lashed out at her conservative colleagues, blasting the very group she used to champion as “the burn-it-all-down caucus” and accusing her fellow hard-line Republicans of not being conservative enough.

The feuding has frequently spilled into the public, fueling eye-grabbing headlines and securing Greene’s reputation as a go-it-alone legislator whose propensity for instigation doesn’t stop at party lines.

Greene, for instance, famously jousted with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) over which of them did more to promote the impeachment of President Biden. She went after Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), a prominent Freedom Caucus member known for his goatee, after he opposed her effort to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), mocking him as “Colonel Sanders.” And most recently, she called Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) a “p—-” for not supporting an early version of her resolution to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. (Issa ultimately voted for the impeachment on the floor.)

Greene is poised to turbocharge her internal offensive as she puts her ouster effort in motion. The congresswoman is already slamming GOP lawmakers who plan to oppose her move as Republicans who support a Democratic Speaker, a dynamic that will intensify the already deep divide within the right flank of the GOP conference.

“If this vote fails and the whole conference, the whole Congress, supports the uniparty, let me tell you something, that is not a failure, it’s a win for the American people, because that’s a list of names,” Greene said. “They deserve that list.”

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.