Marjorie Taylor Greene won’t back Scalise as speaker – but insists it’s for his own good

Steve Scalise was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, in August

Martha McHardy
Thursday 12 October 2023 06:52 EDT
Steve Scalise thanks House Republican for nominating him for Speaker

Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene is refusing to back Steve Scalise for House speaker – but she insists it’s for his own good.

Despite Mr Scalise securing the GOP nomination on Wednesday, Ms Greene – who is one of Donald Trump’s most vocal supporters – announced that she is backing the former president’s pick Jim Jordan instead.

In a social media post, Ms Greene claimed that this is because she likes Rep Scalise “so much” that she does not want to see him “sacrifice his health in the most difficult position in Congress”.

Rep Scalise was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, back in August but has insisted that he is healthy and more than capable of taking on the party’s top job.

Ms Greene claimed that she wants to see Mr Scalise “defeat cancer” more than she wants to see him compromise his health as speaker.

“I just voted for Jim Jordan for Speaker on a private ballot in conference, and I will be voting for Jim Jordan on the House floor. I like Steve Scalise, and I like him so much that I want to see him defeat cancer more than sacrifice his health in the most difficult position in Congress,” she wrote.

“I lost my father to cancer and it’s a very serious battle.”

She continued: “We need a Speaker who is able to put their full efforts into defeating the communist democrats and save America.

“We must stop funding foreign wars - Ukraine. We must stop the weaponized government and hold them accountable. We must secure our border. We must protect our kids. And we need a full leadership team dedicated to this fight in these unprecedented times.”

While other Republicans including Lauren Boebert and George Santos have also declined to back Mr Scalise for speaker, Ms Greene is the only one who has cited his cancer diagnosis as the reason.

Mr Scalise said in August that, despite his diagnosis, he would continue working as the House Majority Leader.

He said he planned to tackle cancer “with the same strength and energy as I have tackled past challenges”.

After announcing his run for the speaker role last week, he brushed off questions about his health.

Marjorie Taylor Greene

Mr Jordan and Mr Scalise emerged as the only candidates to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives after Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the role last week in a historical first.

Ms Greene initially said she supported Mr Trump for the role, but the former president said he would only consider accepting the speakership temporarily if the party was deadlocked on selecting a new speaker.

Mr Trump then went on to endorse Mr Jordan for the post.

While the House speaker does not need to be a member of Congress, it was unlikely that Mr Trump could serve in such a role due to his criminal indictments and ongoing legal cases.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise

Mr McCarthy was stripped of his title as House speaker – second in the line of succession to the White House after the vice president – after eight of his own party joined with 208 Democrats in a parliamentary manoeuvre that hadn’t been tried in over a century, known as a motion to vacate the chair.

It came after Mr McCarthy helped to avert a government shutdown by approving stopgap legislation to keep the government running for the next 45 days.

But far-right Republicans, including Ms Greene, claimed he broke his word to them after he sided with Democrats to prevent the shutdown.

The former speaker has insisted that he does not regret supporting the stopgap funding bill.

“Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but it is necessary ... I don’t regret standing up for choosing governance over grievance ... I do not regret negotiating for government is designed to find compromise, I don’t regret my efforts to build coalitions and find solutions. I was raised to solve problems, not create them,” he said last Tuesday after he was ousted.

“So I may have lost the vote today, but as I walk out of this chamber, I feel fortunate to have served the American people”.

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