Marjorie Taylor Greene Says She’ll Force Vote to Oust Johnson

Marjorie Taylor Greene Says She’ll Force Vote to Oust Johnson

Greene and Massie at their news conference
USA Today Network
By Yuval Rosenberg and Michael Rainey
Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Happy Wednesday! On this date in 1992, as riots raged in Los Angeles, Rodney King made his famous plea for calm, asking, "Can we all get along?"

We still await an affirmative answer to that question, but here’s what else we’re tracking today.

Marjorie Taylor Greene Says She’ll Force Vote to Oust Johnson

Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene announced Wednesday that she will force a vote next week on her motion to oust Speaker Mike Johnson, even as her odds of succeeding appear to be nil. Republican leaders are reportedly prepared to defuse Greene’s threat via a procedural move to table her motion, with help from House Democratic leaders who pledged yesterday to help block the Georgia congresswoman’s revolt.

Greene, however, said she is undeterred. At a morning news conference outside the Capitol, she lambasted the Republican establishment and said Johnson had abandoned his conservative principles. "Once he became speaker, he has become a man that none of us recognize," she said. "He passed three continuing resolutions and then he finally, finally passed a two-part omnibus [spending package] that fully funded Joe Biden’s agenda and the Democrat agenda."

Greene went on to detail a list of ways that she believes Johnson has betrayed Republicans, placing a blue "MUGA" hat — for "Make Ukraine Great Again" — on a photo of the speaker and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries. She said she would give Johnson another weekend to consider resigning and then would press for a recorded vote on the speaker’s future. "I think every member of Congress needs to take that vote and let the chips fall where they may," she said, adding, "I can’t wait to see Democrats go out and support a Republican speaker and have to go home to their primaries and have to run for Congress again having supported a Republican speaker, a ‘Christian conservative.’"

Greene also argued her fight against Johnson is about helping Donald Trump, who has publicly backed Johnson, and about ensuring Republicans control the House when some 2017 tax cuts are scheduled to expire at the end of 2025. "Your taxes are going to go up if Democrats control the House," she said. "You know President Trump’s tax cuts and savings plan? Guess what, it expires [next] year, and whoever controls the House of Representatives — if it’s Mike Johnson and Hakeem Jeffries holding hands together, your taxes are going up, ladies and gentlemen."

Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, who is supporting Greene’s motion and stood at her side at Wednesday’s news conference, called on Johnson to resign and accused the speaker of three betrayals: failing to pass individual spending bills, voting to allow the renewal of a warrantless surveillance program and pushing ahead with a $95 billion foreign aid package.

Massie also echoed Greene in saying it was important to get members on the record about Johnson, even as other Republicans say this isn’t the right time to challenge the speaker. "The main thing that we’ll get out next week, if we don’t succeed, is a list — a list that people can use when they go to vote in primaries and general elections, both on the Democrat side and the Republican side," Massie later told CNN.

Johnson responded with a short statement: "This motion is wrong for the Republican Conference, wrong for the institution, and wrong for the country." Johnson has repeatedly described Greene as a friend even as she pushed for his ouster in recent days, but in a new interview with NewsNation’s "The Hill," he responded to the mention of her name by saying, "bless her heart" — a polite Southern equivalent of flipping her the middle finger.

Asked if Greene is a serious lawmaker, Johnson was dismissive. "I don’t think she’s proving to be, no," he said. "I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about her. I’ve got to do my job, and we do the right thing and we let the chips fall where they may. That’s my philosophy. That’s how we’re governing."

He said vacating the speaker’s chair and launching another fight over the gavel was the opposite of what Republicans want to accomplish.

What’s next: Once Greene formally calls for a vote on her motion, House Republican leaders will have to schedule a vote within two days, but they’ll look to preempt any action with a motion to table, which Democrats would support. If that motion to table somehow fails, a final vote on Johnson’s fate would follow.

Fed Holds Rates at 23-Year High as Inflation Worries Persist

The Federal Reserve made no changes in its interest rate policy Wednesday, holding its benchmark rate at a 23-year high amid signs of stubborn inflation in the U.S. economy.

Officials on the Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement that while the economy continues to expand at a solid pace, "there has been a lack of further progress" in recent months toward reaching the Fed’s target of 2% inflation.

Speaking to reporters, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that recent inflation data has "come in above expectations." As a result, the Fed will continue to watch the data closely for signs that inflation has finally broken, in a process that will likely take longer than expected just a few months ago. Powell said the central bank still expects to cut rates at some point this year, but there’s no certainty it will do so.

"Inflation has eased substantially over the past year while the labor market has remained strong. And that’s very good news," he said. "But inflation is still too high. Further progress in bringing it down is not ensured, and the path forward is uncertain."

Addressing speculation that the Fed might raise interest rates in response to persistently above-target inflation, Powell said it is "unlikely" that its next move would involve a rate hike. Asked by a reporter about the possibility that the U.S. economy could enter a period of stagflation, in which both inflation and unemployment rise significantly, Powell said he didn’t see the conditions for such a scenario at this point. "I don’t see the stag or the flation," he said.

What the experts are saying: Expectations for three or more interest rate cuts this year are fading fast. Diane Swonk, chief economist at KPMG, said there probably isn’t enough time left in 2024 for the Fed to cut rates as much as previously expected. "The threshold to cut is clearly lower than the threshold to hike," she said, per The Washington Post. "But they have been shaken."

Some inflation hawks on Wall Street said the Fed is running the risk of once again being late in its effort to control inflation. "Powell clearly thinks policy is restrictive but there is no evidence of that," said Michael Contopoulos, head of fixed income at Richard Bernstein, per Bloomberg. "Inflation continues to surprise to the upside. I think it is funny investors hang on his every word when this is the same Fed who said they didn’t think they would have to hike and the same Fed that less than 6 months ago said they thought they would cut 6 times in 2024."

Still, many experts expect inflation to resume its downward trend later this year, allowing the Fed to cut rates. "In our baseline, housing disinflation will come toward the end of the summer, which will most likely show up before the FOMC’s September meeting," RSM’s Tuan Nguyen wrote. "For this reason, we see the first cut coming in September, followed by another in the last quarter if the economy remains on a solid trajectory.

Biden Forgives Another $6 Billion in Student Loans

The Biden administration on Wednesday announced it would erase roughly $6.1 billion in additional student loan debt. The latest round of debt forgiveness is specifically for 317,000 borrowers who attended The Art Institutes, a private school group that closed last year amid allegations of fraud.

"This institution falsified data, knowingly misled students, and cheated borrowers into taking on mountains of debt without leading to promising career prospects at the end of their studies," President Joe Biden said in a statement.

The forgiveness applies to students who were enrolled between 2004 and 2017, when, according to the Department of Education, the school made "pervasive and substantial misrepresentations to prospective students about postgraduation employment rates, salaries, and career services."

The Biden administration has now forgiven nearly $160 billion in student loan debt, involving about 4.6 million borrowers.

"The president has been very clear that no family earning less than $400,000 will face a tax hike." That was the Janet Yellen quote that was accidentally omitted from yesterday’s newsletter. Sorry for the oversight.

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