Conspiracy theorist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on Monday threw her support to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in his bid to be speaker if Republicans take control of the House.
Greene spoke out against efforts by her far-right colleagues to back an alternative to McCarthy in an internal party vote this week.
“That’s a bad strategy when we’re looking at having a very razor-thin majority,” Greene said on former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast.
After Republicans underperformed in last week’s midterm elections, several members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus have criticized McCarthy’s leadership and suggested they might oppose his speaker bid.
But McCarthy already has support from most of the Republican conference, Greene said, and any effort to undermine him could give Democrats a chance to team up with moderate Republicans and install someone like Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as speaker ― an idea suggested by random commenters on Twitter.
“There’s no way in hell that I’m gonna vote to hand that gavel to Liz Cheney,” Greene said. (Cheney lost her primary and will not be in the new Congress, but the Constitution does not require the speaker to be a sitting member.)
The House will elect its speaker by a majority vote in January, and if Republicans hold a slim majority, just a small number of dissenters could block McCarthy’s path. Several House races remain undecided, but Republicans are likely to control the chamber once all the votes are counted.
The House Freedom Caucus wants to change House rules to make the speaker less powerful, such as by empowering any House member to file a motion to remove the speaker. A Freedom Caucus member told Politico that the group could back one of its former chairs, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), in an internal vote this week just to show McCarthy that they mean business.
Biggs declined to say whether he would run, but told reporters Monday that “nobody has 218,” which is the number of votes necessary for a majority of the House.
Greene is not alone in fearing Democrats could hijack the speakership.
“There’s a significant danger that the Democrats could have sway,” Freedom Caucus member Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) told HuffPost on Monday.
The House voted in 2021 to disallow Greene from serving on any committees because of her previous statements supporting conspiracy theories about mass shootings and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Greene has since become one of the most visible and potentially influential members of the GOP conference. McCarthy has said that if Republicans win the House, he would reward her with committee seats.
Speaking on Bannon’s podcast Monday, Greene said that the 2020 presidential election and last week’s midterm elections were both tainted by fraud. And she said that Democrats are enemies of the state.
“We have to do everything we can to stop our enemy, and the enemy is the Democrat Party,” Greene said. “That’s the enemy of America because they are destroying our country and selling us out.”