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Greene relents, for now, on bid to oust Johnson

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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is seemingly retreating from her threat to hold a referendum on Mike Johnson’s speakership this week after two meetings with the GOP leader.

The Georgia firebrand is backing away from her pledge to hold an ouster vote, for now, saying the small band of conservative rebels interested in booting him would continue to watch Johnson’s actions moving forward. The speaker was widely expected to survive any attempted firing this week, as Democrats had committed to helping him.

“We will see. … Right now the ball is in Mike Johnson’s court,” she responded, when reporters repeatedly pressed her on whether she would carry out her promise to force the vote.

It is a dizzying walkback of a threat Greene first made more than six weeks ago. She had vowed to act on her vow to force an anti-Johnson vote this week even as it became clear that she didn’t have the support to fire him – with former President Donald Trump standing by him and Democratic leaders announcing they would align against her.

During an impromptu briefing on the Capitol steps with her chief ally Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Greene offered no end date for the duo to decide when to try to force a vote on ending Johnson’s reign and said only that his runway is “pretty short, at some point.” Greene cautioned that her new stance didn’t “necessarily” mean she had ruled out making a move this week, while Massie attempted to add an even more urgent condition.

“We actually have to see progress hourly” from the speaker, he said, though neither Greene nor Massie provided few specifics on what that would look like.

Despite making several key requests of Johnson in their two lengthy meetings this week, Greene and Massie walked away without a clear commitment from him — and instead urged reporters to go talk to the GOP leader.

Asked whether it is fair to dangle the threat of a no-confidence vote over his head with no timeline or specified legislation in mind, Greene replied that their leaked list of four items was “pretty specific” and that Johnson must now decide how to make good on their demands.

Those four requests from Greene and her allies: defunding Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Trump; no more Ukraine aid, a deal on federal spending; and ensuring future bills brought to the floor boast support from the majority of the House Republicans.

But some of their ideas are already sparking pushback in other corners of the conference, where members are warning Johnson to avoid getting backed into a corner like his predecessor, fired former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Johnson has publicly downplayed that he is negotiating with his critics — instead describing their closed-door meetings as “productive” discussion but largely the same sort of listening session that he would hold with any member of his conference. When asked, he has declined to share details of those meetings to his House colleagues and reporters.

“I hear suggestions and ideas and thoughts from members. My door has been open from day one,” Johnson said on Tuesday.