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Marjorie Taylor Greene is one move away from wreaking havoc in the House

How Marjorie Taylor Greene is trying to get her groove back.

It sure looks like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene isn’t bluffing. 

The MAGA firebrand from Georgia released a furious five-page letter Tuesday detailing why she filed a motion in March to oust Rep. Mike Johnson from his position as House speaker. At the time, she had described the filing as a “warning.” Her letter marks a new escalation. Capitol Hill observers see her missive as a serious threat to put Johnson’s speakership to a vote. At this point, it appears that if Johnson goes ahead in the coming weeks with a bill providing aid to Ukraine, Greene might just pull the trigger. 

House Republicans are struggling to function as a party, with hard-liners threatening to tear the whole thing down.

That vote could cause chaos. If Johnson is toppled from his post, Republicans could be fighting over picking their third speaker in six months — and during an election year. 

Greene’s standoff with Johnson underscores her own political evolution as she returns to playing the role of rabble-rousing activist after trying to play the inside track. And it illustrates how House Republicans are struggling to function as a party, with hard-liners threatening to tear the whole thing down if a leader makes even the most minimal attempts to cooperate with the Democrats. 

It might be counterintuitive to think of Greene as a strategic player. Her first months as a representative in 2021 were mostly defined by the discovery of her racist conspiracy theories about Jewish space lasers and support for violent threats against Democrats online, which resulted in her being stripped of her committee assignments. When Republicans became the majority last year, however, she not only won back her committee assignments, but also became a player in Congress in part by aligning herself with the establishment of the party — specifically, developing close ties with then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. While she did not moderate her views much ideologically, she evolved as an institutional actor in the way she positioned herself close to the leadership as a path to more influence in Congress. 

But after McCarthy’s ouster in October, Greene has appeared to be trending back toward outside agitator. She does not see his successor, Johnson, as a new ally, but as an adversary. And she’s garnering massive amounts of attention for leading the charge against him, arguably reclaiming the mantle of the most pugnacious MAGA lawmaker on Capitol Hill. 

The manner in which Greene’s letter hammers Johnson seems to be more about her burnishing her credentials as a MAGA mutineer than it is about critiquing Johnson in a productive manner. She blames him for a trend in Republican lawmakers retiring, as if he is personally responsible for their departures even though he just recently became speaker. She slams him for the expulsion of former congressman George Santos — even though Johnson opposed it and Santos dug his own grave. She described Johnson’s cooperation with Democrats on bills to keep the government funded as a “complete and total surrender to, if not complete and total lockstep with, the Democrats’ agenda.” Greene seems to think that working with Democrats to keep the government running constitutes the betrayal of a conservative agenda. And she slams Johnson for failing to pass legislation that would’ve secured the U.S.-Mexican border, even though everyone knows it is Trump, not Johnson, who demanded Republicans torpedo what would’ve been a decisive policy win for the GOP on immigration. 

What emerges from Greene’s letter is not a vision for conservative governance but a vision of government in which MAGA hard-liners hold the government hostage and render it dysfunctional in an extended tantrum. Nowhere in her manifesto is there a realistic reckoning with the fact that Democrats control both the White House and the Senate. 

She concludes her letter lamenting how Johnson’s tenure marks the GOP succumbing to “self-inflicted destruction.” It’s an ironic statement. If she really attempts to oust Johnson in the coming weeks for daring to defy her demands, and succeeds, she will be the one responsible for pushing the party into another historic display of chaotic internal strife. But it seems that Greene would be happy to leave the House GOP in ruins if she can stand tallest amid the rubble.