‘Majority’ Taylor Greene: Georgia lawmaker angles to be GOP kingmaker
‘Majority’ Taylor Greene: Georgia lawmaker angles to be GOP kingmakerW. James Antle III
December 23, 06:00 AM December 23, 06:00 AM
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had a telling slip of the tongue earlier this month when she briefly referred to “Majority Taylor Greene” during a press briefing.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has gone from pariah to kingmaker, poised to play a major role in the narrowly GOP-controlled House come January, less than two years after being stripped of all her committee assignments.
Greene has emerged as a top booster from the Right of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for speaker in the next Congress, alongside former President Donald Trump.
ELON MUSK’S IMPERFECT EXPERIMENT WITH THE NEWEST WAVE OF LIBERAL-DOMINATED MEDIA
This has put her at odds with fellow MAGA populists, such as Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who is himself a Trump loyalist, and a subset of about a half-dozen staunch conservatives who remain steadfastly opposed to McCarthy’s speakership bid. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), a former chairman of the Freedom Caucus, is challenging the Californian for the gavel.
After a disappointing midterm election, Republicans have a smaller-than-expected House majority. This gives McCarthy’s conservative rivals an outsize influence. But if he is elected, the same will prove true of Greene.
“I think that to be the best speaker of the House and to please the base, he’s going to give me a lot of power and a lot of leeway,” Greene told the New York Times in October.
This could lead Republicans to focus on congressional investigations and have different priorities on spending, immigration, and aid to Ukraine.
McCarthy, for his part, is said to view cultivating Greene as a way for the Republican leadership to channel her and other aligned lawmakers’ credibility constructively with a portion of the conservative base. His upper chamber counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), is facing a revolt by conservative activists over the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package, among other things.
With just 222 Republican-held House seats in the next Congress, a mirror image of the Democrats’ soon-to-be dethroned razor-thin majority, McCarthy also needs her vote. He can only afford four defections on the House floor. The same will apply to any legislation that cannot attract Democratic votes.
Presently, there are as many as five firm holdouts. Normally the bete noire of the GOP establishment, Greene is leading the charge against them. She called them the “Never Kevin Five,” with a tip of the hat to “Never Trump,” in an op-ed, saying they have no viable alternative to McCarthy.
“Lying to the base is a red line for me, and that’s what five of my closest colleagues are doing when they claim a consensus House speaker candidate will emerge as they oppose Kevin McCarthy,” she stated. “Here’s the reality: No one is running against Kevin McCarthy for speaker.”
“Perhaps more than any Republican, I am ready for our majority because I believe there is real work to be done to save our country. And the last thing I want is everything blown up on day one simply because a few dislike Kevin McCarthy, who is promoting the very agenda they believe in,” she added.
Democrats would like nothing better for Greene to symbolize the new Republican majority more than McCarthy or any eventual member of the GOP leadership team. President Joe Biden campaigned against “ultra-MAGA” Republicans during the midterm elections. He has specifically called McCarthy a “MAGA Republican.”
This was part of the playbook of past Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama after their party lost the House in their first midterm elections.
Greene came under fire for comments about the Jan. 6 Capitol riot earlier this month. “I want to tell you something: If Steve Bannon and I had organized that, we would have won,” she said. “Not to mention, it would’ve been armed.”
“This violent rhetoric is a slap in the face to the Capitol Police, the DC Metropolitan Police, the National Guard, and the families who lost loved ones as a result of the attack on the Capitol,” a White House spokesman responded in a statement. Greene said her remark was “sarcasm” and a joke.
But Greene is a Republican in the mold of the candidates who caused the party to underperform in the midterm elections, losing a seat in the Senate rather than capturing a majority, even as she was reelected handily. In several key races, voters who said they somewhat disapproved of Biden withheld their support from GOP candidates even as they voted for Republicans elsewhere on their ballots.
The 48-year-old Georgia lawmaker has also taken shots from colleagues and erstwhile defenders on the populist Right, many of them pointing out her association with QAnon and assorted conspiracy theories.
“You know, I’ve been aligned with Marjorie and accused of believing a lot of the things that she believes in,” Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) said at a Turning Point USA conference when asked about Greene backing McCarthy. “I don’t believe in this, just like I don’t believe in Russian space lasers — Jewish space lasers and all of this.”
Speaking on Steve Bannon’s War Room in November, Gaetz said, “Whatever Kevin has promised Marjorie Taylor Greene, I guarantee you this: At the first opportunity, he will zap her faster than you can say Jewish space laser.”
The Republican lawmakers were referencing a 2018 Greene Facebook post in which she speculated that a space laser caused California’s wildfires, an idea linked to an antisemitic conspiracy about which she denied knowledge.
Greene has in turn taken aim at both of them.
“I’ve supported and donated to Lauren Boebert. President Trump has supported and donated to Lauren Boebert. Kevin McCarthy has supported and donated to Lauren Boebert. She just barely came through by 500 votes,” Greene tweeted. “She gladly takes our $$$ but when she’s been asked: Lauren refuses to endorse President Trump, she refuses to support Kevin McCarthy, and she childishly threw me under the bus for a cheap sound bite.”
Of Gaetz, she wrote, “Many of his attacks against Kevin McCarthy are comparisons to Paul Ryan. It’s quite ironic given Matt’s very first vote in Congress was for Paul Ryan as speaker.
“Even when we all knew Paul Ryan would never deliver the MAGA agenda.”
The vote for speaker will be held after the new Congress is sworn in on Jan. 3.