May 24th, 2024

House quickly rejects Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s effort to remove Speaker Johnson from office

By Lisa Mascaro And Kevin Freking, The Associated Press on May 8, 2024.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Hardline Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tried and failed in sudden action Wednesday to oust Speaker Mike Johnson, her long-shot effort swiftly and resoundingly rejected by Democrats and Republicans tired of the political chaos.

One of Donald Trump’s biggest supporters in Congress, Greene stood on the House floor and read a long list of “transgressions” she said Johnson had committed as speaker. Colleagues booed in protest.

Greene of Georgia criticized Johnson’s leadership as “pathetic, weak and unacceptable.”

No sooner than Greene triggered the vote on her motion to vacate the speaker from his office, the Republican Majority Leader Steve Scalise countered by calling first for a vote to table it.

An overwhelming majority, 359-43, kept Johnson in his job, for now.

It’s the second time in a matter of months that Republicans have tried to oust their own speaker, an unheard of level of party turmoil with a move rarely seen in U.S. history.

As Greene pressed ahead despite pushback from Republicans at the highest levels, GOP lawmakers filtered towards Johnson, giving him pats on the back and grasping his shoulder to assure him of their support.

“We need steady hands at the wheel,” Johnson said afterward. “The country desperately needs a functioning Congress.”

The Georgia Republican had vowed she would force a vote on the motion to vacate the Republican speaker if he dared to advance a foreign aid package with funds for Ukraine, which was overwhelmingly approved late last month and signed into law.

But in recent days it seemed her effort had cooled, as she and Johnson met repeatedly for a potential resolution.

Johnson of Louisiana marched on, saying he had been willing to take the risk, believing it was important for the U.S. to back Ukraine against Russia’s invasion and explaining he wanted to be on the “right side of history.”

“I just have to do my job every day,” Johnson said Monday.

In a highly unusual move, the speaker received a boost from Democrats led by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, whose leadership team had said it was time to “turn the page” on the GOP turmoil and vote to table Greene’s resolution – almost ensuring Johnson’s job is saved, for now.

Trump also weighed in after Johnson trekked to Mar-a-Lago for a visit, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee giving the speaker his nod of approval. And Trump’s hand-picked leader at the Republican National Committee urged House Republicans off the move.

Ahead of the vote, Trump said on social media, “I absolutely love Marjorie Taylor Greene,” but he said Republicans need to be fighting now to defeat Democrats in the November election.

“This is not the time,” Trump said, to oust the speaker.

The move now poses its own political risks for Greene, a high-profile provocateur.

Greene was determined to force her colleagues to be on the record with their vote ““ putting them in the politically uncomfortable position of backing the speaker and seen as joining forces with Democrats to save him.

The tally showed the strength, but also the weakness, of her effort, as most lawmakers voted to move past the infighting and allow the Republican speaker, just six months in the office, to keep the gavel.

Last year, the House chamber was brought to a standstill when eight Republicans voted to oust Kevin McCarthy from the speaker’s office, and Democrats declined to help save him.

Ousting McCarthy resulted in a nearly monthlong search for a new GOP leader, throwing the chamber into turmoil with an episode Republicans wanted to avoid before seeking voter support in the November election.

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Associated Press writers Stephen Groves and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

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