Speaker Johnson to Meet Rep. Greene Following Motion to Vacate

‘Marjorie’s a friend. She’s very frustrated about, for example, the last appropriations bills. Guess what? So am I,’ said Mr. Johnson.
Speaker Johnson to Meet Rep. Greene Following Motion to Vacate
(Left) Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) speaks during a Congressional Gold Medal presentation ceremony at the Emancipation Hall of the Capitol Visitor Center on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 21, 2024./(Right) Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) speaks to reporters outside of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington on March 13, 2024. (Alex Wong, Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said he exchanged text messages with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on March 31 and planned to discuss spending and reforms with Ms. Greene this week.

The expected meeting will be held after Ms. Greene filed a motion on March 22 to vacate the speakership, which was prompted by Mr. Johnson’s collaboration with Democrats to pass a $1.2 trillion spending package to avoid a partial government shutdown.
“Marjorie Taylor Greene filed the motion. It’s not a privilege motion, so it doesn’t move automatically. It’s just hanging there. And she’s frustrated. She and I exchanged text messages even today. We’re going to talk early next week,” Mr. Johnson said during an interview on Fox News’s “Sunday Night in America With Trey Gowdy” on March 31.

At the time, the congresswoman declined to make the measure privileged, which would have forced a vote. Instead, she said that the motion was a “pink slip” and a warning to the House speaker, but she has not ruled out forcing a vote later. Ms. Greene said passing the spending package was “a betrayal of the American people” and “a betrayal of the Republican voters.”

In the interview, Mr. Johnson told host Trey Gowdy that he understood Ms. Greene’s frustration, but with a very narrow GOP majority in the House, sometimes the Republicans could not get the perfect bill.

“Marjorie’s a friend. She’s very frustrated about, for example, the last appropriations bills. Guess what? So am I,” Mr. Johnson said.

“These are not the perfect pieces of legislation that you and I, and Marjorie, would draft if we had the ability to do it differently. But with the smallest margin in U.S. history, we’re sometimes going to get legislation that we don’t like,” he continued.

“We were successful in getting a lot of the terrible stuff out, but a few of them made it through, and that’s what Marjorie is upset about, and I am too. But I want to talk with her about reforming the budgeting and spending process going forward.”

Ms. Greene’s move was the same maneuver used by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) against then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in October, which ended in Mr. McCarthy’s removal from speakership.

However, many lawmakers who helped oust Mr. McCarthy have expressed skepticism of doing the same to Mr. Johnson.

Mr. Gaetz told reporters last month that he did not want to see Mr. Johnson go, saying, “If we vacate this speaker, we'll end up with a Democrat speaker.”

Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) agreed. “If we were to kick him out, you might as well just give the gavel to Hakeem,” he said, referencing House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).

During the Fox News interview, Mr. Johnson stressed that Ms. Greene’s action is a distraction from the GOP’s goal. “I think all of my other Republican colleagues recognize this as a distraction from our mission. Again, the mission is to save the republic. And the only way we can do that is if we grow the House majority, win the Senate, and win the White House. So we don’t need any dissension right now,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ms. Greene dismissed criticism that her motion against Mr. Johnson could land the GOP speakership to Mr. Jeffries due to the Republican’s slim majority in the lower chamber. She argued that GOP lawmakers who left the office are to blame. She made the comments during an interview on the conservative cable channel Real America’s Voice on March 26.
Former Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) departed Congress in late March while Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) announced he would leave the House later this month. The timing of Mr. Gallagher’s departure will leave his seat vacant until November. Last week, Ms. Greene called to expel Mr. Gallagher from the House to give his district time to hold a special election for a new representative.

Ukraine Bill Might Risk Johnson’s Speakership

In another move, Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) says he’s gotten a commitment from Mr. Johnson to hold a vote on supplemental assistance to Ukraine.

However, Ms. Greene is an outspoken critic of funding Ukraine, and any move by Mr. Johnson to bring a vote on such legislation could be met with a forced vote on the motion to vacate.

In the interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” on March 31, Mr. Bacon said Mr. Johnson might risk losing the speakership due to the Ukraine bill.

“It is very likely that after this Ukraine bill, we may have a standoff with the speaker. I hope the speaker prevails,” Mr. Bacon said. “He’s doing the right thing. It’s in our national security interest that Ukraine remain independent.”

Joseph Lord contributed to this report.