Opinion: Marjorie Taylor Greene tries out new House role

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has been making her presence known on the House floor.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has been making her presence known on the House floor.

For over 25 years in the U.S. House, one job has gone unfilled — that of House floor watchdog.

It’s not an official position of the minority, but one that can play an important role.

There was H.R. Gross, the legendary Iowa Republican, who was often a one-man parliamentary wrecking crew. Dubbed the “Useful Pest,” Gross once stopped a plan for lawmakers to get small flags for their cars, to indicate their VIP status.

The last to follow in the footsteps of Gross was U.S. Rep. Bob Walker, R-Pa. — a key ally of Newt Gingrich — who tussled with Democrats into the mid-1990′s.

Enter U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome.

Since Greene was stripped of her House committee assignments, the Georgia Republican has a lot more time on her hands than other lawmakers.

No committee hearings. No committee votes.

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In recent weeks, Greene has made her presence felt on the floor, moving to adjourn the House, delaying action on some bills, and earning criticism from Republicans as she called for surprise votes.

“This is what we’re hired to do,” Greene said.

With no committees, Greene could use the House rules to torment Democrats on the House floor, or just throw sand in the legislative gears.

On Monday, Democrats postponed work on 13 non-controversial bills because Greene was ready to call votes on all of them, which would have taken hours under COVID voting rules.

“She seems to have down pat the obstructive part of the role,” said George Washington University political science professor Sarah Binder.

“On the other hand, it doesn’t really strike me as the best route if her goal is to gain media attention, raise money, and advance her and MAGA’s agenda,” Binder added.

Matt Glassman of Georgetown University’s Government Affairs Institute agreed, saying of Greene, “if her goal is bombastic attention, she has lots of avenues besides wreaking havoc on the floor.”

“And they might find her to be an unwanted distraction,” Glassman said of the relationship between GOP leaders and Greene.

The distractions were on display this week. One bill that Greene derailed was a plan to make more veterans eligible for the Coronavirus vaccine.

Democrats passed it by unanimous consent the next day; Greene was not there to object.

On Wednesday, Greene temporarily delayed debate on a $1.9 trillion COVID aid package, with another motion to adjourn. But over three dozen Republicans voted against her — a number that keeps growing.

“Unfortunately some Republicans are voting with Democrats to continue business as usual,” Greene fumed.

If Greene really wanted to learn the House rules, she could funnel the intensity of her star power into regular floor combat with Democrats, a throwback to Newt Gingrich tangling with Speaker Tip O’Neill.

Or she could fight with her own party.

We’ll see what her choice is.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and the 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

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