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MTG and Massie walk out of Johnson's office.

Welcome to Day 2 of MTG-Mike Johnson drama

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) quixotic quest to boot Mike Johnson from the speakership will continue in all its glory today, 181 days ahead of the 2024 election.

Greene and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) met with Johnson for two hours Monday afternoon. They emerged to find a waiting horde of reporters, but Greene would only say that she’ll meet with Johnson again today over whether to force a vote to oust the speaker.

Greene wouldn’t comment on her conversation with Johnson upon leaving the room. But we were able to get details about what she asked the speaker for:

That Johnson commit to no more U.S. aid for Ukraine.

That Johnson commit to defunding Special Counsel Jack Smith’s criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump.

That Johnson only advance legislative priorities that have the support of the majority of the majority — an adherence to the so-called Hastert Rule.

Let’s dissect these asks and then move into how we see the politics for all of the parties involved.

1) Under huge pressure, Johnson just helped push through a $61 billion aid package for the war in Ukraine, relying on a majority of Democratic votes to do so. The White House won’t be coming back to Congress anytime soon for more cash. The most important issue on Ukraine funding is who wins the contest for the White House in November. Johnson can feasibly say that he’s done sending money to Ukraine for the time being. ​​Although the downside is Johnson would be painting himself into a box, never a great look for a party leader.

2) Trump allies on Capitol Hill have long advocated cutting off funding for Smith’s investigation into Trump — both the classified document case and the Jan. 6 investigation. The FY2024 spending bills are already done, of course, so there’s no leverage there. But the FY2025 spending bills are early in the drafting process, meaning House Republicans could give it a run.

Of course, the Senate would never take this up, and President Joe Biden would never sign any such bill including this provision if it somehow landed on his desk. Senior House Republicans privately admit this.

Yet Greene doesn’t really see those political realities as hurdles — or care. She wants to cause legislative crises and get media coverage.

Also, keep in mind, the document case is unlikely to be finished before the election.

3) Passing bills with the majority of the majority is always a goal for any speaker. Lucky for Johnson, there’s not much big-ticket legislating left this year.

He has the FAA renewal coming up in the next few weeks. There are the 12 annual spending bills, plus the expected continuing resolution that will keep government agencies functioning beyond Sept. 30 while lawmakers seek reelection. Beyond that, however, there’s a dearth of must-pass bills that need to be done.

Republican leadership aides point out that they have gotten the majority of the majority on every bill they whipped except for the second spending package. Of course, Republicans didn’t whip everything either. So this should be an achievable ask from Greene.

The reality: All of this means Greene still may not get the answers she wants. She’s holding open the possibility of triggering the motion to vacate this week if Johnson doesn’t accede to these demands. Or Massie could do it.

Now let’s get into the politics of this situation for all the participants.

Johnson. The reality is that much of this is cosplay for all of the players involved. Johnson is going to survive a motion to vacate with Democrats voting to table, so the threat from Greene, Massie and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) is mostly theater. But Johnson would certainly like to be spared the indignity of having to rely on House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries to rescue his speakership.

It costs Johnson very little to hear Greene and Massie out and try to help them understand the situation he’s in. With little left to do this year, it’s clear Johnson would prefer to not have to deal with a motion to vacate — even if he can beat it.

“I’m optimistic as I am every day, Jake,” Johnson said to us Tuesday evening. “My job is to keep everybody working together and working towards our main objectives and I’m hopeful we can continue to do that.”

Greene. The “Will-she-or-won’t-she?” routine is appealing to a certain kind of lawmaker. Greene is getting the attention that comes along with vowing to oust the speaker. Although Greene says she wants every Republican on the record as to whether they’ll vote with Jeffries to save Johnson, the reality is she is going to lose on the floor and find herself out of favor with nearly all of her GOP colleagues. We don’t see the win if Greene or Massie keeps pushing this.

House Democrats. If Greene does pull the plug, she’ll be doing Democrats a huge favor. The decision to save Johnson isn’t playing very well in the House Democratic Caucus. Most Democrats aren’t psyched to keep a Republican speaker in place — especially because the GOP would never return the favor under any circumstance.

— Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan

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