Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene outlined a list of demands to Republican candidates on Wednesday as the House prepared to vote for a new speaker.
House Republicans were set to meet Wednesday in hopes of agreeing on which person to vote for to replace California Representative Kevin McCarthy, who drew conservative revolt after working with Democrats on a short-term bill to avert a government shutdown. The House last week voted to remove McCarthy after Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, introduced a motion to vacate, sending Congress into chaos as it has only a matter of weeks to pass a full appropriations bill.
GOP Representatives Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio are running for speaker, and Republicans hope to unite to support someone and hold a quick vote on the House floor to fill the role. But it remains unclear whether either candidate would be able to secure 218 votes.
Greene, a Georgia Republican, gave her list of demands to potential speakers in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
A staunch conservative, Greene wrote that she has several “red lines” for any potential Republican speaker on a range of cultural issues that have divided the country and the party. While the GOP’s conservative base has rallied around opposing LGBTQ+ rights, the Russia-Ukraine war and the COVID-19 pandemic as key conservative social issues, more moderate Republicans have avoided taking conservative positions on these issues.
“No matter who the next Speaker is my issues and red lines do not change. Stop funding a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine. No money for COVID anything. Stop the weaponized government. Stop transgender surgeries on kids. Secure our border. Put America First!” Greene posted.
Her demands reflect the challenge for a Republican speaker—maintaining support from the GOP conference’s right-wing flank while also appeasing more moderate members from districts with a Democratic lean who may find themselves at odds with their constituents if the party veers too far right.
Meena Bose, the executive dean of Hofstra University’s Peter S. Kalikow School of Government, Public Policy and International Affairs, told Newsweek that she is not sure it’s possible for a speaker to navigate that challenge, and that “an absolute binding resolution” could make the position untenable as there is no clear resolution in sight.
She said House Republicans would need to agree that leadership is needed, regardless of individual demands, to reconcile their differences, noting that the difficulty of building a coalition within the GOP is daunting and that it is not clear Republicans will be able to select a speaker this week.
“Intraparty divisions for Republicans make clear that majority control is no path to governance, even in a single chamber. We’re in an uncertain time for American politics where the business of federal government is being brought almost to a standstill,” she said, noting that the Senate and White House continue to function.
Grant Davis Reeher, a professor of political science at Syracuse University, told Newsweek that the speaker battle will likely end with Republicans picking someone “who is able to nod enough toward the right-wing Republicans without sounding too far out there.”
Reeher said whichever Republican is selected will still face some challenges from the conference, which remains divided.
“He or she will have to be acceptable to enough members of the right wing of the party. What will that mean? What promises will have to be made? It’s become clear that the provision allowing for one member to move to vacate the chair was a mistake, so I think one important item on the to-do list in the negotiations is to remove that,” Reeher said.
Under House rules, any single member could file a motion to vacate, as Gaetz did to McCarthy, forcing a vote on removing the speaker. Because of the GOP’s narrow majority, it doesn’t take many Republicans voting alongside Democrats to remove the speaker. Eight Republicans voted to remove McCarthy.
Some House Republicans, however, have called for a change in the rule to raise the threshold of the number of lawmakers needed to call a vote to vacate the speaker’s office following McCarthy’s ouster. Representative Carlos Gimenez of Florida wrote on X: “The person who wants my vote for Speaker must commit to reforming the motion to vacate. The threshold must be raised to 50% of the Republican Conference. A Speaker cannot govern under constant threat by fringe hostage takers.”
Although Greene has voiced different opinions on issues such as Ukraine, she supported McCarthy’s leadership and was not one of the eight Republicans who voted to remove him.
Newsweek reached out to Scalise’s and Jordan’s spokespersons via email for comment.
Update 10/11/23, 12:15 p.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information.