Speaker Mike Johnson calls far-right Greene and Massie ‘close friends’

‘I don’t disagree with them on many issues and principles,’ Speaker Johnson says of hard-right Republicans

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Thursday 02 November 2023 12:29 EDT
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Speaker Mike Johnson calls far-right Greene and Massie ‘close friends’

Newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson called far-right members Marjorie Taylor Greene and Thomas Massie “close friends” during a press conference as more information comes out regarding the views of the low-profile lawmaker suddenly elevated to the top job in the chamber.

Asked by a reporter about Ms Greene’s and Mr Massie’s views on the proposed aid package to Israel, Mr Johnson said: “I've had great discussions with Thomas and Marjorie, they’re close friends and committed conservatives and I don't disagree with them on many issues and principles. They understand the necessity of us getting our appropriations bills done and sent over.”

The $14bn aid package put forward by Mr Johnson came with equal amounts in cuts to the IRS, which the Congressional Budget Office said would lose the government more than $26bn in tax revenue.

“The Republicans are leveraging the excruciating pain of an international crisis to help rich people who cheat on their taxes. I mean, are you kidding me?” Democratic Rep Jim McGovern said on the House floor. “Was that hatched at a fundraiser in Mar-a-Lago? Did some big donor come up and twist somebody’s arm?”

“Their offset actually needs an offset,” Mr McGovern said.

University of Maryland Assistant Research Scientist Aki Peritz wrote on X: “I don’t have any close friends who also happen to be political extremists who I agree with on many issues and principles.”

Suffolk University law professor Sara Dillon added: “Our idiotic electoral system brought us this. Watch it and weep. A horrible man, symbolic of a horrible, outdated, undemocratic system.”

In a New York Times guest essay, Thomas Edsall wrote: “Johnson’s ascent to the top job in the House also raises a larger, more encompassing question: Will voters care in 2024 (and beyond) that one of America’s two major political parties has been taken over by an alliance of MAGA forces and their white evangelical allies, who have clearly indicated their willingness to abandon democratic norms — that is, democracy itself — in the pursuit of power? Polling suggests that this is a far from settled question.”

Ms Dillon responded, writing, “They could not have done this if legal people had done their job to demand electoral/constitutional changes. This extremism is product of our antiquated system. My God, can’t Americans see, it is not because of the determination of these people. The door was open – they walked in”.

Mr Johnson has faced increased scrutiny since becoming speaker, which has revealed that he doesn’t appear to have a bank account, no savings, and his wife removed a website for their business which linked to a document that appeared to compare being gay to bestiality.

The new speaker has come under criticism for his far-right views on social issues and his past anti-LGBT+ rights work. His significant role in former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election has also come under scrutiny.

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