Opinion: Greene tries to shift from bomb thrower to insider

Two years ago, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome, hit Capitol Hill like a hurricane. It was a messy introduction.

In the space of a few months, Greene expressed support for those involved in a violent attack on the Capitol, continued to make evidence-free charges of election fraud, compared mask rules for COVID to the Holocaust, and then had the House deliver a rare rebuke by stripping her committee assignments.

Greene is still making baseless charges of election fraud — but now she’s also trying to play power politics inside the Republican Party, by actively helping House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy become Speaker, as she charts out a fresh path for herself in the 118th Congress.

“I’m very proud of Kevin McCarthy for listening to every single member in our conference,” Greene said after House Republicans nominated him as their candidate for Speaker.

Greene was a frequent presence before television cameras outside this week’s closed-door GOP leadership meetings at the U.S. Capitol, as she repeatedly called on Republicans to stick together.

“We have a very slim majority,” Greene said. “And so this is why it’s so important for us to stay unified.”

Greene’s approach was in sharp contrast to other members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, some of whom seemed to be itching for a fight to stop McCarthy from becoming Speaker — convinced he won’t be tough enough on Democrats.

“You can’t basically say we’re just going to walk in and play footsie with these people,” said U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., who unsuccessfully challenged McCarthy this week.

Instead of joining with Biggs, Greene met behind the scenes with McCarthy, and repeatedly made the case to colleagues that a conservative revolt might backfire.

“I can’t support a challenge that will allow the Democrats to elect their own Speaker,” Greene told reporters. “We’ve got to elect our Republican Speaker.”

It’s not clear what Greene will get from McCarthy for being so publicly supportive — but it’s certain that she will get to serve on committees in the new Congress, something that was taken away from her in 2021.

Some fellow Republicans like U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., chided Greene for endorsing McCarthy — and not joining the conservative resistance.

“At the first opportunity, he will zap her faster than you can say ‘Jewish space laser,’” Gaetz said, referring to Greene’s 2018 Facebook post that space lasers were to blame for wildfires in California.

At some point, Greene could well find herself in a spat with McCarthy and GOP leaders in the House — but for now, she’s decided being on the inside is better than being an outsider.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com

About the Author