U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene fails in attempt to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson

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WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 08: Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) (R) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) stand for the national anthem during the statue dedication ceremony for civil rights leader Daisy Bates in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol on May 08, 2024 in Washington, DC. Bates was a civil rights activist from Arkansas who was a mentor to the Little Rock Nine, a group of Black students who desegregated schools in Arkansas. The statue of Bates is replacing one of Uriah M. Rose, an attorney and former president of the Arkansas Bar Association. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Efforts by a small group of far-right U.S. House Republicans to remove Speaker Mike Johnson from his leadership role failed Wednesday night, ending weeks of infighting about whether the Louisianan should remain the head of that chamber.

Republican lawmakers joined by Democrats voted 359-43 to table, or set aside, the so-called motion to vacate that Georgia GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene originally filed in March, before spending weeks calling for Johnson to resign.

Greene was backed by Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie and Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar ahead of the vote, though a few more GOP lawmakers signaled their frustrations with Johnson’s leadership by voting to move ahead with a vote, instead of tabling it.

Greene, reading from her lengthy motion to vacate before the vote, rejected Johnson bringing broadly bipartisan bills to the House floor during his six months as speaker.

The government funding bills, Greene said, showed that “Johnson supported fully funding abortion, the trans agenda, the climate agenda, foreign wars and Biden’s border crisis, rather than ensuring liberty, opportunity and security for all Americans.”

“Mike Johnson is ill-equipped to handle the rigors or the job of speaker of the House and has allowed a uniparty — one that fuels foreign wars, tramples on civil liberties and increases our disastrous national debt — to take complete control of the House of Representatives,” Greene said.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, moved to table Greene’s motion. All of New Jersey’s House members voted in favor of tabling, except Reps. Rob Menendez and Bonnie Watson Coleman, who voted no.

Johnson, speaking to reporters in Statuary Hall, said he appreciated “the show of confidence from my colleagues to defeat this misguided effort.”

“Hopefully, this is the end of the personality politics and the frivolous character assassination that has defined the 118th Congress,” Johnson said. “It’s regrettable. It’s not who we are as Americans. And we’re better than this. We need to get beyond it.”

Johnson said he planned to work throughout the year to grow the Republican majority in the House and elect Donald Trump as president during November’s elections.

“I’m proud to serve in this position. It’s not one that I aspired to. It’s not one that I ever expected to have or planned for, but it is the honor of my life and career to do this,” Jonson said. “And I will do it, so long as this body will have me do that.”

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic Whip Katherine Clark and Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar announced last week they would vote to keep Johnson in the speaker’s office.

“We will vote to table Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Motion to Vacate the Chair,” they wrote at the time. “If she invokes the motion, it will not succeed.”

Greene and Massie met with Johnson for two hours on Monday and about 90 minutes on Tuesday, laying out their requirements for not offering the motion to vacate. Greene said the ball was in Johnson’s court on whether to comply with the changes or not.

Big change from McCarthy vote

The vote was considerably different from the vote to remove former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, that took place in October after Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz filed another motion to vacate.

Eight Republicans and the chamber’s Democrats all voted to remove McCarthy from his leadership post.

The House Republican Conference then spent weeks debating behind closed doors who should become their nominee for speaker — first selecting Scalise, who withdrew after just one day without holding a floor vote; then choosing Ohio’s Jim Jordan, who took his bid to the floor for a series of failed votes; and then Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer, who withdrew after just hours as the nominee.

House Republicans then voted to nominate Johnson, who received unanimous support from fellow GOP lawmakers during the floor vote.

Johnson held that leadership role for less than six months before Greene began calling for him to step down from the speaker’s office or face a motion to vacate him from the office on the House floor.

Greene and others have become increasingly angry that Johnson has brought bipartisan bills to the floor for votes, including government funding legislation, the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and a $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

Johnson’s detractors argue that he should have done more to push for conservative policy wins, even though any legislation that passes the House must move through the Democratic-controlled Senate and avoid President Joe Biden’s veto pen in order to become law.

Greene has also argued that Johnson allowing broadly bipartisan legislation to pass on the House floor could risk Republican candidates’ chances of winning seats during the November elections.

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