Mike Johnson, Marjorie Taylor Greene speakership standoff continues after meeting

The Georgia congresswoman said she received many "excuses" from Johnson.

April 10, 2024, 3:32 PM

House Speaker Mike Johnson and fellow Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene met Wednesday amid Greene's looming threat to remove Johnson from his post.

It was their first sit-down since Greene introduced a motion to vacate the speaker's chair just before lawmakers left Washington last month for a two-week recess.

Greene exited the meeting still frustrated with Johnson's handling of several hot-button issues, including additional aid for Ukraine and the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The Georgia congresswoman said she received many "excuses" from Johnson, and that no deal or promises were made -- signaling they made little progress over the course of nearly an hour.

"This meeting didn't clarify my timing [on a motion to vacate the speaker]," she said. She claimed that "a lot" of the Republican conference agrees with the motion despite some criticism.

Greene has also taken issue with Johnson for working with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown. She laid out her point-by-point case for opposing Johnson in a letter to colleagues on Tuesday.

"I don't want to cause harm to our conference," she said after their meeting. "This is something that's going to take time."

PHOTO: U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., speaks to reporters outside of the U.S. Capitol Building after a vote on a funding bill that would avert a government shutdown, March 22, 2024, in Washington.
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., speaks to reporters outside of the U.S. Capitol Building after a vote on a funding bill that would avert a government shutdown, March 22, 2024, in Washington.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Johnson defended his leadership strategy ahead of his one-on-one with Greene.

In a press conference alongside other House Republican leaders earlier Wednesday, Johnson noted Greene's anger over the House passage of funding bills to avert a government shutdown, telling reporters he shared her frustration, but they are limited with a one-vote majority in the House and a Democrat-controlled Senate and White House.

"We are not going to get, because of that reality, we are not going to be able to do big transformational changes that we'd like, that we know are necessary," Johnson said, adding: "We will never get 100% of what we want and believe is necessary for the country because that's the reality. It's a matter of math in the Congress."

Johnson also pushed back that he didn't believe allowing the government to shut down was in the GOP's political interests as they look to keep and expand their majority in the November elections.

"That would put a lot of pressure on the American people ... at a very desperate time," Johnson said of a possible shutdown.

"Nor does a motion to vacate help us in that regard either. It would be chaos in the House," Johnson said.

On Ukraine aid, Greene said she urged Johnson not to bring more assistance to Ukraine to the floor for a vote.

"We are not responsible for a war in Ukraine. We are responsible for the war on our border," Greene told reporters. "And I made that clear to Speaker Johnson, that the United States border is the only border that matters and that if he moves forward and funding Ukraine that he's going to be personally responsible for funding the continued murder of people in a foreign country that is not a NATO ally of ours, and that the American people do not support."

The Senate passed its own $95 billion national security supplemental bill in February that included assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, but Johnson has not brought it to the House floor for a vote. In an interview with Fox News during recess, Johnson pledged to act on Ukraine aid when lawmakers returned to Washington.

PHOTO: Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, April 10, 2024, in Washington.
Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, April 10, 2024, in Washington.
Jose Luis Magana/AP

But as of Wednesday, Johnson said details on a measure to provide assistance to Ukraine as Russia's invasion rages on were still being worked out.

"On the supplemental, the House members are continuing to actively discuss our options on a path forward," he said in the GOP press conference. "There are a lot of different ideas on that. It's a very complicated matter at a very complicated time. The clock is ticking on it and everyone here feels the urgency of that, but what's required is that you reach consensus on it and that's what we're working on."

Later Wednesday, in another bad sign for Johnson's relationship with hard-line Republicans, the speaker's effort to move forward with a bill to reauthorize FISA failed.

A key procedural vote failed 193-228 with 19 House Republicans voting against the measure, despite statements from both Johnson and the White House that FISA is critical to national security.

"We will regroup and formulate another plan. We cannot allow Section 720 of FISA to expire. It's too important to national security. I think most of the members understand that," Johnson told reporters.

"It's never helpful for the majority party to take down its own rule," he added.

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