As Marjorie Taylor Greene traded whispers on the House floor with the most powerful man in the chamber earlier this month, the headlines turned apoplectic.
The Georgia congresswoman’s close alliance with Kevin McCarthy was on full display during his chaotic fight to become House speaker, a fight he ultimately won, in part thanks to Greene vouching for his conservative credentials. Pundits immediately began gesticulating about the “normalization” of the so-called “QAnon congresswoman,” known by her fans and critics alike by just her initials, “MTG,” and her unapologetically America First brand.
Proximity to power is a new look for Greene, who was kicked off her committees by Democrats shortly after she took office and shunned as a pariah by leadership during her first term. She has since distanced herself from her most controversial comments, but that has not stopped her critics from insisting she is dangerous.
Now, Greene appears poised to be a potent influence on the GOP agenda in the House, fueling speculation she is rebranding into a sanitized, more palatable version of herself.
In an interview at her Washington, D.C. office last week, Greene bristled at the suggestion she has changed.
“Nothing changed about me and didn’t need to change,” Greene said, sporting jeans as she sat opposite a wall covered nearly to the ceiling in framed photos of her family. “I haven’t changed my views. I haven’t changed my political positions.”
It’s the party that has changed, she said.
“What has changed is the Republican Party has been pushed to the right. The Republican Party has been pushed to be more America First,” Greene said.
Greene said she has tried to “constantly echo” the concerns of “Mr. and Mrs. American, regular Americans,” who have been “totally neglected” in Washington. She has done this in public and private, from floor speeches to conference meetings to private meetings with McCarthy and others in leadership, she said.
“So if there’s anything that has changed, I think the Republican Party cares more about Americans, and they need to continue to do that,” she said.
As for her critics, “people were lying about me. They lied about a lot,” she said. “The media has lied about me extensively and called me horrific names that don’t reflect who I am.”
Her staunch support for McCarthy through the House speaker fight was both pragmatic and principled, she said.
“I don’t pick a fake fight, and that was a fake fight,” Greene said.
Greene whipped votes for McCarthy as he frantically tried to quell an internal rebellion from a group of her fellow Freedom Caucus members, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).
Eventually, McCarthy was successfully installed as speaker after 15 votes over four days when the insurgents finally relented, but not before he agreed to several concessions. One was a rules change called “motion to vacate the chair,” meaning one member can effectively force a vote to remove McCarthy as speaker at any point. Other concessions included an end to COVID mandates and funding, a committee to investigate the FBI’s alleged weaponization against its political enemies, more single-subject bills, and a promise not to increase the debt ceiling in the next federal budget.
Greene insists the much-touted concessions changed little, and said Gaetz and company exaggerated their significance.
“Don’t lie to make yourself look like you’re conservative or make yourself look anti-establishment when you’re not changing anything,” she said.
Republicans simply do not have enough conservatives to elect someone like McCarthy’s challenger Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ), the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, Greene said.
“I dream of a conservative speaker too. It’s just impossible to get one,” she said, adding that McCarthy is “willing to listen” and “willing to fight” on conservative agenda items.
Meanwhile, there was a danger during the speaker fight that Democrats would band together with moderate Republicans to choose their own speaker, Greene said. She overheard Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) sitting behind her discussing their lists of names and how to get to 218 votes, the threshold for a speaker to be elected, she said.
“It was literally happening. It was happening,” Greene said.
However, her support for McCarthy does not mean she will “line up with leadership all the time” or “fight the Freedom Caucus” from now on, she assured.
“No, that’s not the case,” Greene said. “My voting record will still be the same. I still support the same views and values, and I’m gonna continue to fight on those things. I’m just not willing to do it for no reason, just to look tough or look a certain way in the public eye.”
In the meantime, it feels good to finally have a Republican majority in the House, she said.
“I’ve been comparing it to the land of Narnia, when the ice queen, all the ice melted, and everything turned green again, and she was no longer in power,” Greene quipped.
However, she cautioned that she is not more optimistic than two years ago since Republicans are still hamstrung in the Senate and White House.
“I’m pretty grounded in my thinking,” she said. “We have to move the ball down the field. But I don’t think we’ll be scoring any major touchdowns these two years.”
Nevertheless, Greene’s critics are spinning over her new spots on the House Oversight and Homeland Security Committees.
She is particularly eager to get started on the Oversight committee, where she anticipates investigating Hunter Biden’s laptop, specifically the president’s son’s bank records, which allegedly show suspicious transfers of funds that were flagged by U.S. banks. Greene thinks these alleged suspicious transfers could potentially implicate President Biden in Hunter’s foreign business dealings.
She will also sit on Oversight’s COVID select subcommittee, which she says will investigate the origins of COVID and the roles of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institute of Health, the CDC, and the FDA in the pandemic response.
“We have a lot to investigate, and we need more than two years,” Greene said.
House Republicans have a packed agenda for legislation as well as investigations over the next two years. On the table is the budget, including potentially slashing funding for the Department of Defense to start whittling down the country’s $32 trillion debt. Since the speaker fight, House Republicans have already passed a bill nixing $71 billion in funding for the IRS. They have also passed two abortion-related measures, one condemning the recent physical attacks on crisis pregnancy centers and another that would send doctors to prison for up to five years if they refuse to care for an infant born alive after an abortion attempt.
Although House Republicans will struggle to get their bills approved by the Democrat-controlled Senate, Greene intends to get her gender identity bill passed in the House in the next two years. The bill would make it a felony to perform so-called “gender-affirming care” on minors.
The harms of gender ideology on children are “on par with abortion,” she said, and should be “number one.”
“Abortion is such a lie to women that you can kill this baby in your womb and make your dreams and goals come true,” she said. “But this gender lie, this attack on God’s creation is so destructive to a child’s development and how they see themself that it’s literally the same type of thing.”
For nearly two years, Greene has displayed a sign outside her office that reads, “There are TWO genders: male and female. Trust the science!”
“I told my staff it’s never coming down,” she said.
Beyond this Congress, Republicans need total control of both chambers and the White House to effect significant change, Greene said. Greene has already endorsed former president Trump for a second term in 2024, and she would love to see him “finish out what he started.” To win again though, Trump will need to “capture the spirit of 2016 but also move forward with the issues today,” Greene said.
“He came into this town not knowing who the bad actors were, but he has a list of them now, and I’d love to see him clean house,” she said. “I think anybody counting President Trump out is totally reading it wrong just like they read it wrong in 2015.”
As for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, seen as Trump’s strongest potential challenger for the Republican nomination, Greene said he should stay governor for “as long as possible” since he is an excellent example to other Republican governors on how to keep their states “safe” and “great places for conservative Americans to live.”
If Greene’s vision of a unified Republican government materializes in 2024, the party will have a long list of agenda items as it tries to make up for lost time under Biden.
If her bond with leadership has staying power until then, MTG could find herself a VIP.