NATIONAL NEWS

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

May 8, 2024, 2:34 PM | Updated: 6:08 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hardline Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tried and failed in sudden action Wednesday to oust House 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 criticized Johnson’s leadership as “pathetic, weak and unacceptable.”

After Greene triggered the vote on her motion to vacate the speaker from his office, Republican Majority Leader Steve Scalise quickly countered by calling first for a vote to table it.

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

“As I’ve said from the beginning, and I’ve made clear here every day, I intend to do my job,” Johnson said afterward. “And I’ll let the chips fall where they may. In my view, that is leadership.”

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

The tally shows the strengths but also the stark limits of Johnson’s hold on the gavel, and the risks ahead for any Republican trying to lead the GOP in the Trump era. Without Democratic help, Johnson would have certainly faced a more dismal outcome.

All told, 11 Republicans voted to proceed with Greene’s effort, more than it took to oust then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy last fall, a first in U.S. history. And the threat still lingers — any single lawmaker can call up the motion to vacate the speaker.

Johnson said he hoped it “is the end of the personality politics.”

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

The Georgia Republican had vowed weeks ago she would force a vote on the motion to vacate the Republican speaker if he dared to advance a foreign aid package 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 to approve the foreign aid, 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.”

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.

“Our decision to stop Marjorie Taylor Greene from plunging the country into further chaos is rooted in our commitment to solve problems,” Jeffries said after the vote.

Trump had also weighed in after Johnson trekked to Mar-a-Lago last month for support, 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 House voting, 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. He urged Republicans to table Greene’s motion.

“At some point, we may very well be, but 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 who has moved to the forefront of the party with her own massive following and proximity to Trump.

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.

“I’m proud of what I did today,” Greene said afterward on the Capitol steps.

While reporters and camera crews crowded around Greene and ally Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., a group of other Republicans gathered on the steps trying to shift the attention away from her and make their own views known.

Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., said of those trying to remove the speaker, “They’re pretty good at getting attention, but they have not been recognized for their ability to get things done.”

He said if they keep pushing to oust the speaker, “I think you can expect more of the same: Failure.”

Reps. Carlos Giménez, a Florida Republican, said of Greene: “She doesn’t represent the Republican Party. I’m tired of of this being the face or the voice of the party and getting attention. That’s all she wants, is the attention.”

Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., called for Greene and Massie to be punished for their actions.

Had Democrats not taken the unusual move to help, the vote would most likely have ended differently for Johnson who holds one of the slimmest majorities in the House in modern times, with no votes to spare.

Last year, the House chamber was hurled into chaos when eight Republicans voted to remove 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, bringing the chamber to a standstill with an episode Republicans wanted to avoid ahead of the November election.

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Associated Press writers Stephen Groves, Mary Clare Jalonick, Michelle Price and Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.

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