House back in turmoil: Marjorie Taylor Greene makes her move to oust Speaker Mike Johnson


WASHINGTON – Conservative firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said on Wednesday she’s calling up a vote next week to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., setting up a high-stakes clash inside her own party and where Democrats are vowing to help avoid another lengthy vacancy in the job that is second in line of succession to the presidency.

Greene’s move is unlikely to succeed but still is certain to roil internal GOP tension as she continues to target Johnson, the most powerful elected Republican in the country.

Johnson has been defiant in the face of the existential threat to his speakership, saying he has no intention of resigning from his post as a vast majority of his conference backs him. House Democrats on Tuesday promised to kill any effort from Greene to oust him from his speakership.

Greene, a second-term Georgia lawmaker, initially filed her motion that can lead to the removal of a House speaker in March. After weeks of threats, she said on Wednesday that she’ll move next week to force a floor vote.

“I voted for Mike Johnson because his voting record before he became speaker was conservative,” Greene said at a press conference on Wednesday morning outside the U.S. Capitol. “But once he became speaker, he has become a man that none of us recognize.”

Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky., hold a press conference outside the US Capitol on potential motion to vacate against Speaker of the House Mike Johnson.Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky., hold a press conference outside the US Capitol on potential motion to vacate against Speaker of the House Mike Johnson.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky., hold a press conference outside the US Capitol on potential motion to vacate against Speaker of the House Mike Johnson.

The coming showdown has the potential to plunge the House into chaos once again after the lower chamber has already seen the ouster of its last GOP speaker, former Rep. Kevin McCarthy. Finding a replacement for the California Republican took three weeks amid significant GOP infighting, with former President Donald Trump demonstrating his power over the party by making public statements that undercut support for one of the leading candidates.

“This motion is wrong for the Republican Conference, wrong for the institution, and wrong for the country,” Johnson said in a statement following Greene’s announcement.

Johnson also dismissed Greene’s threat to oust him, suggesting to NewsNation in an interview that she is not a serious lawmaker: “Bless her heart.”

“I’m not into personal attacks. That’s not why I’m doing this.” Greene said, responding to the speaker’s comments and eliciting laughter at her press conference. “This has nothing to do with Mike Johnson as a person but this is about his job performance.”

‘A warm hug and a big wet sloppy kiss’

Greene, along with Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., announced her plans to force a House vote while flanked by two posters of Johnson embracing House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., when he was elected speaker last year. She claimed Johnson has given Democrats “everything they want.”

“We have Hakeem Jeffries and the Democrats coming out, embracing Mike Johnson with a warm hug and a big wet sloppy kiss and they are ready, they have endorsed him, they are ready to support him as speaker,” Greene said.

Another potential leadership crisis has raised significant concerns among Republicans about how it would reflect on the party in a critical election year. It’s also not clear who could succeed Johnson if the speakership were to be rendered vacant, but eyes would immediately turn to those who sought the job last year, including House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn.

But it’s still uncertain whether any of those potential lawmakers could earn the near-unanimous support needed from Republicans to become speaker. Greene declined to offer up an alternative candidate but said she thinks “we have people that are capable.”

While Greene appeared to be a lone dissenter at first, fellow conservative hardliner Massie, joined her effort in mid-April, calling on Johnson to resign or else face a vote of no confidence on the House floor. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., became Greene’s third public supporter a few days later.

A vast majority of both Republicans and Democrats are expected to dismiss Greene’s motion, but the conservative firebrand defended her move, saying the motion would allow Americans to see who supports the speaker.

“I can’t wait to see Democrats go out and support a Republican speaker,” Greene said. “I also can’t wait to see my Republican conference show their cards and show who we are because voters deserve it.”

Greene’s call to force a vote to oust Johnson comes after the House passed a set of long-awaited foreign aid bills funding key U.S. allies including Ukraine and Israel.

Conservatives repeatedly pushed Johnson to tie strict GOP-backed border and immigration policy changes to any foreign aid package. But with a Democratic-controlled Senate and White House, such a maneuver would have killed any chance of Congress passing foreign aid, which advocates described as essential to national security.

Johnson long dithered on the issue under intense pressure from conservatives but the speaker made a remarkable change of attitude, particularly with funding Ukraine.

“My philosophy is you do the right thing and you let the chips fall where they may,” Johnson told reporters in April. He said that he if had operated out of fear he wouldn’t be able to do his job.

“History judges us and what we do,” the Louisiana Republican added. “This is a critical time right now, a critical time on the world stage. I can make a selfish decision and do something that’s different but I’m doing here what I believe to be the right thing.”

Johnson has given personal reasons for why he’s supportive of aiding Ukraine, noting his son is set to begin at the U.S. Naval Academy in the fall.

“This is a live fire exercise for me, as it is so many American families,” the House speaker said. “This is not a game. This is not a joke. We can’t play politics with this.”

At Wednesday’s press conference, Greene held up a hat that read “MUGA,” playing off Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan that took root in the 2016 presidential campaign. She said the “uniparty is make Ukraine great again. The uniparty is about funding every single foreign war. They think this is the business model that needs to be done.”

US Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, holds a "Make Ukraine Great Again" hat during a press conference on House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries' endorsement of Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on May 1, 2024.US Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, holds a "Make Ukraine Great Again" hat during a press conference on House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries' endorsement of Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on May 1, 2024.

US Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, holds a “Make Ukraine Great Again” hat during a press conference on House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ endorsement of Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on May 1, 2024.

Democratic support may not help Johnson

House Republicans control the lower chamber with just a razor-thin majority and a one-vote margin, meaning with Greene, Massie and Gosar calling for Johnson’s removal, that would be enough votes — assuming Democrats joined them — to topple the speaker. The conservative Republicans have hinted there are other members willing to force Johnson out.

Just one aggrieved lawmaker can initiate the process to remove a speaker thanks to a decision by McCarthy to change the lower chamber’s rules. In his own pursuit of the speakership early last year, McCarthy agreed to allow for a vote on his ouster if it was called for by just a single member.

Johnson’s allies pleaded with the speaker in April to change the rules to beat back Greene’s effort and any other possible future removal threats. But Johnson has announced the House will continue to operate under it’s existing set of rules.

Johnson and his fellow Republican leaders are almost certain to try to dismiss Greene’s push, and Democrats will support such a move.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky., hold a press conference outside the US Capitol on potential motion to vacate against Speaker of the House Mike Johnson.Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky., hold a press conference outside the US Capitol on potential motion to vacate against Speaker of the House Mike Johnson.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky., hold a press conference outside the US Capitol on potential motion to vacate against Speaker of the House Mike Johnson.

“We will vote to table Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Motion to Vacate the Chair. If she invokes the motion, it will not succeed,” House Democratic leaders said in a joint statement on Tuesday morning.

But it’s not clear whether Johnson could stay on as speaker with the help of Democrats. Conservatives and several other House Republicans have doubts publicly and privately at the prospects of a Republican speaker staying in power with Democratic support.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MTG to force vote on House Speaker Mike Johnson’s job



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