Washington Post: The House GOP thought it was moving past internal drama. Then more showed up.


House Republicans finally felt they were done going through the stages of grief. Over months of infighting, emotions ran the gamut from denial to depression while they watched the conference struggle with the aftermath of ousting the speaker of the House. But many Republican lawmakers had begun to accept that their slim majority was unlikely to find compromise within its ranks, and while personal animosity among some members persisted, it had waned significantly.

Then, on Friday afternoon after a grueling multiweek stretch of debates over government funding, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) handed a single sheet of paper to staff on the House floor that detailed a motion to remove House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) from his role, once again ripping open the wounds of the past five months.

When the House returns to Washington next month, the GOP majority will have to govern under the pall of uncertainty as Johnson looks to find compromise on two of the most divisive policy issues for Republicans: how to fund Ukraine, Israel and other foreign democracies while also defending U.S. borders. Though Greene’s resolution was meant to serve more as a “warning” than a signal that a vote is imminent, it has forced Republicans to grapple with the possibility that they could again be without a speaker if critical legislation is not handled in a manner the far right approves. Even worse, to some lawmakers, they may be forced into closer coordination with Democrats.

The persistent demands of the furthest-right flank, who often refuse to strike deals with a wing of the conference they consider unwilling to fight for the most conservative goals, put Johnson in a tenuous position while trying to piece together a policy puzzle that can pass a Democratic-led Senate and land on the president’s desk. Several far-right members have publicly hinted they would support ousting Johnson if he bungles this next fight.

Republicans thought threats to oust the speaker had largely subsided after many realized they weren’t likely to unanimously elect a third conservative speaker. It took three weeks to elect Johnson, in part because three previous speaker-designates couldn’t clinch the necessary 218 votes on the House floor. Complicating the math further, Republicans will soon have a one-vote margin to pass anything relying only on their majority once Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) steps down next month. And there are whispers among lawmakers that more are looking for the exits, possibly jeopardizing the majority.

That historically narrow margin and their track-record of disagreements will make it nearly impossible for Republicans to agree on a candidate within their ranks and could force them to rely on Democrats — a notion the far right despises — to choose a moderate Republican as speaker — or even Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) if conservatives are not careful.

For now, Republicans from across the ideological factions left Washington largely characterizing Greene’s effort as a selfish one they would not back. Rep. John Duarte (R-Calif.), a moderate who represents a swing district, suggested the conference “make a bracket of Marjorie’s March Madness to guess who the next speaker is going to be,” while House Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good (R-Va.) said he suspected she filed the motion “to get people to talk about her.” Greene said she did “not wish to inflict pain on our conference and to throw the House in chaos” but she thought it was time to “find a new speaker of the House that will stand with Republicans.”

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