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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to meet again with House Speaker Johnson

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The House of Representatives could vote today on whether to oust the speaker - the second time that's happened lately.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Last year, then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy lost his job in a divided House. Just a few Republicans voted against him, but that was enough, because Democrats did not save him. Now an even more closely divided House votes on speaker Mike Johnson. Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene is leading this effort, but this time, Democrats appear ready to help the speaker if he needs it.

INSKEEP: NPR congressional reporter Barbara Sprunt will be following whatever happens, and she's on the line. Good morning.

BARBARA SPRUNT, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: OK, let's just remember, under the current rules, any one lawmaker can start this process. Greene is the latest to try it. Why?

SPRUNT: Well, this all started because she was angry about the way Johnson handled a set of six appropriations bills for this year. That package passed in the House with more Democratic support than Republican support. And then the same thing happened with the foreign aid package, including money for Ukraine, something that she and others in the conference oppose. She's been raising money off of this effort to potentially oust the speaker. It's been getting lots of attention. Here she is last week. She said House Republicans need a leader who will support Donald Trump's agenda.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE: Not working for Hakeem Jeffries, not working for Joe Biden and not going to be twisted and lulled into continuing the disgusting practices of Washington, DC.

INSKEEP: And for those who don't follow us every day, Hakeem Jeffries is the House Democratic leader. He's been on the program in the past. And of course, he's a factor here, by the way. So how is Speaker Johnson responding to this threat?

SPRUNT: Well, leading up to this week, he'd been saying he's not focused on this. He's got a job to do, that the overall effort is bad for Republicans and for the Republican Party. Yesterday, after emerging from a long meeting with Greene and Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie, who's co-sponsoring this motion of Greene's, Johnson said he understands their frustration that the conference isn't advancing more conservative policy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MIKE JOHNSON: The reality is, we are working with the smallest majority in U.S. history, with a one-vote margin. It makes it very difficult for us to, using my football metaphor, as I often do, throw touchdown passes on every single play.

INSKEEP: He's making a case for what you do in divided government. You don't get everything, you get what you can, and then you go on to the next election. That's what Johnson is saying. So how does the threat to Johnson compare to last year's threat to his predecessor, McCarthy?

SPRUNT: Well, the math is a factor. Greene just doesn't have the votes. Top House Democrats have already said they'll support a motion to basically set all of this aside, a motion to table. It would avoid a situation where members stand on the floor and directly cast their votes to remove or keep Johnson. And I've talked to Republican members who are pretty upset with the speaker's choices so far, but they still say that removing him as speaker would be a mistake. They say it's unproductive. They don't want to relive the chaos of trying to elect another speaker. And of course, it's an election year. They worry it doesn't look good for the party to be mired in this sort of infighting just months before people go to the polls. And, you know, not to mention, there's no clear successor for Johnson. Of course, if Democrats do save his job, it sort of boosts Greene's claims that he's operating far too closely with Democrats.

INSKEEP: Is Greene going to go through with this if she doesn't have the numbers?

SPRUNT: We'll find out later today. Last week, she insisted she was done waiting and would move ahead this week, but she met with Johnson yesterday for about 2 hours. When she came out, she gave very brief remarks and basically said, we had a nice chat, long chat. We'll have another one today.

INSKEEP: We just had a nice chat with NPR's Barbara Sprunt. Thanks so much.

SPRUNT: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.