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Marjorie Taylor Greene's delay tactics frustrate GOP

The Hill logo The Hill 3/6/2021 Scott Wong
a person holding a microphone: Marjorie Taylor Greene's delay tactics frustrate GOP © Greg Nash Marjorie Taylor Greene's delay tactics frustrate GOP

Georgia GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's efforts to delay congressional business by forcing futile procedural votes to adjourn the House each day are disrupting committee hearings and virtual constituent meetings - and ticking off a growing chorus of Republican colleagues.

Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) had to rush out of a committee hearing with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on monetary policy. Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) had to step out of a video conference with an international conservation group. And Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) had to halt a Zoom meeting with local chambers of commerce from the Great Lakes region.

"Aggravated," Wagner replied when asked by The Hill how she felt about having to vote on one of Greene's motions to adjourn one recent morning.

Before stepping onto the House floor, Wagner added, "Ms. Greene doesn't have three hearings today like I do."

Greene - stripped of her two committee assignments last month - has plenty of time on her hands, and the first-term firebrand and die-hard Trump defender has been using it to gum up the works of the House of Representatives.

It's political payback to the Democrats who voted to boot her off both the Education and Budget committees over her past social media posts embracing dangerous conspiracy theories that the 9/11 attacks were a hoax and that the Sandy Hook and Parkland school shootings were staged "false flag" operations and expressing support for violence against top Democrats, including the execution of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). She has since distanced herself from the wild theories and says she regrets some "words of the past."

But Greene's guerilla tactics are also inflicting pain on her GOP colleagues, who have complained that they serve no purpose and interrupt the flow of the workday for lawmakers, particularly meetings that are planned around anticipated vote schedules.

Some point out the irony: Greene complained that ousting her from committees "stripped my district of their voice" and "stripped my voters of having representation to work for them." Now, Republicans are turning the tables on Greene, arguing that her obstruction is making them less effective at representing their own constituents.

"It's a senseless thing that doesn't really provide for productive results in the Congress," Joyce, a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, told The Hill. This week, he had been on a Zoom video call sponsored by the International Conservation Caucus Foundation, with Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) when Greene forced an unexpected vote to end House business for the day.

"All it does is disrupt the organization of the day when you're trying to meet with constituents when you have to come vote for something that's not going to pass," Joyce said.

Greene had no comment when asked about the growing number of Republicans voting against her motions. But in a floor speech this week, she railed against what she sees as Democrats' wasteful $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package; the anti-discrimination Equality Act, which she said "puts men in our little girls' bathrooms, locker rooms and sports teams"; and the George Floyd police reform bill, which she disparaged as the "Democrats hate police" bill "that puts police on Biden's hit list."

"Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform the Democrats that the radical path you are taking is going to cause you to lose in 2022," Greene said before forcing a vote to adjourn.

The onetime QAnon conspiracy theorist also seemed to have little sympathy for her irritated Republican colleagues, tweeting, "Some GOP members complained to me that I messed up their schedule. I'm not sorry for interrupting fundraising calls & breakfast. GOP voters are tired [of] weak Rs."

The Senate has its own version of Greene. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), also a key Trump ally, has been grinding the gears of the Senate to a halt this week as Democrats try to push through their sweeping COVID-19 relief package. He forced the Senate clerks to read the 628-page bill out loud, a delaying tactic that irked Democrats and Republicans alike.

In the House, any lawmaker can force a motion to adjourn, which is not debatable and must be voted on immediately. And while some lawmakers mock these tactics as the equivalent of a congressional temper tantrum, they are some of the few ways that rank-and-file members of the minority can register their protest. In fact, Republicans point out that House Democrats forced several of these adjournment votes when they languished in the minority during most of the 2010s.

However, the votes don't do much other than delay the House schedule for an hour or two and elicit bipartisan frustrations.

"She has a complete right to do it, but in the long run, you serve yourself and your constituents better by not being offensive to the whole body," said Walberg, a Michigan Republican who on Wednesday had to leave a Zoom meeting with local chambers of commerce to vote on Greene's latest motion to adjourn.

"There's no reason to adjourn, and I'm not into taking votes just to slow down things," he added. "I don't think a good number of our members want to waste our time with that. It's a long walk over here [from our offices to the House floor], and with the length of votes we're taking right now, it adds another hour to our time. Rather than going to bed at 9:30 tonight, it will be 10:30 or 11:30."

On Wednesday morning, Walberg was one of 18 Republicans who bucked Greene and voted against her motion to adjourn. That was the largest number so far, and Walberg made clear to The Hill that he had been the second Republican to cast a "no" vote on the floor that day.

The other 17 GOP no votes included House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Reps. Tom Rice (S.C.) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), three Republicans who voted to impeach Trump; Rep. Jim Banks (Ind.), the new chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee; House Appropriations Committee members Kay Granger (Texas), Mike Simpson (Idaho), Steve Womack (Ark.), Mark Amodei (Nev.), John Rutherford (Fla.) and Joyce; Reps. Don Bacon (Neb.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Mike Gallagher (Wis.), David McKinley (W.Va.) and Gregory Murphy (N.C.); and Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (Iowa.) and Blake Moore (Utah), two fellow first-term lawmakers.

"I don't understand the strategy," Banks said after the vote.

On Feb. 25, there were just two Republicans - Rice and Rutherford - who voted against a Greene motion to adjourn. On a similar vote just a day earlier, there were zero GOP defections, meaning that every single Republican voted with Greene.

"I'm just tired of it. We're doing this every day, and there's no point. So I'm just done playing," said an exasperated Kinzinger, a vocal critic of Trump and Greene who believes the number of Republicans voting against her motions will continue to grow.

"The crazy thing is nobody coordinated it; I never talked to anybody," he said of the 18 "no" votes this week. "Today was the organic moment of 'We're over it.'"

Added Joyce, "Hopefully, more people will see the light in not doing this."

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