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House blocks Greene’s effort to oust Johnson

The House rejected an effort from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) from his top leadership position, bringing an end to a weekslong saga of the Georgia Republican seeking to leverage her motion to vacate to make conservative demands in the lower chamber.

Lawmakers voted 359-43 to table the motion, effectively killing the measure before it could be brought to the floor for a final vote. The motion succeeded after 163 Democrats joined nearly all Republicans in tabling the bill.

Only 11 Republicans voted against tabling the bill. Seven Democrats voted present.

Greene noticed her motion to vacate on Wednesday evening, over one month after she initially filed it on the House floor. The Georgia Republican outlined several charges against Johnson, accusing the speaker of violating his promises and working too closely with House Democrats on key legislation. 

“We need a new speaker,” Greene told reporters Friday. “This is not personal against Mike Johnson. He’s a very good man, and I have respect for him as a person, but he is not doing the job. The proof is in the vote count today. He passed a budget that should have never been brought to the floor, did not represent our conference, and it was passed with the Democrats.”

House leaders brought the motion to the floor just moments after it was called. 

Several of Greene’s Republican colleagues decried the move, accusing her of triggering the motion simply to get attention. 

“I’ve got bad news for Marjorie,” said Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD). “People are going to pay attention to this story for about an hour and they’re going to go back to real life. This is not going to make her any more famous than she already is.” 

When asked if Greene herself should be kicked out of the Republican conference, Dusty Johnson said, “One dumpster fire at a time.”

“Moscow Marjorie has clearly gone off the deep end — maybe the result of a space laser,” said Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY). 

Greene initially filed her motion to vacate in late March, holding the measure over Johnson’s head as he looks to navigate his conference through votes on key legislation. Greene followed through with that threat last week, telling reporters last week she would “absolutely” be putting the measure on the floor sometime this week for a vote.

Greene announced her motion on the floor during votes on Wednesday afternoon, which was met with boos from members of both parties. Greene yelled back, “This is the uniparty for the American people watching.”

However, the move comes as House Democratic leadership came out against the motion to vacate on Tuesday, vowing to table the legislation should it come to the floor. That decision gives Johnson considerable cover as several House Republicans have also expressed opposition to removing the speaker, possibly making the motion dead on arrival.

Greene has refused to back down from her threats, saying she would give Democrats “the chance” to elect him as their speaker.

“I’m a big believer in recorded votes because putting Congress on record allows every American to see the truth and provides transparency to our votes,” Greene said. “Americans deserve to see the Uniparty on full display. I’m about to give them their coming out party!”

Greene also accused Johnson of orchestrating a “slimy backroom deal” to save his speakership, something the speaker said he did not do. He said during the GOP leadership press conference on Tuesday that he did not hear about Democratic leaders’ statement to table a possible motion to vacate until reporters asked him.

“I’ve never requested assistance from anyone. I’m not focused on that at all,” Johnson said earlier this month.

A motion to vacate requires only a simple majority to pass, meaning if all Democrats voted to oust Johnson, it would only take two Republicans to join in order to pass. However, a handful of Democrats have expressed support to defend Johnson.

Instead, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) had publicly called on Johnson to resign voluntarily, giving Republicans an opportunity to choose a new speaker without repeating the three-week period in October when the House went without a speaker and all floor action was stalled. 

Massie said he had pushed Johnson to resign rather than risk an ouster, but the speaker has repeatedly declined. The Kentucky Republican predicted the motion to vacate “will get called” and Johnson would “lose more votes than Kevin McCarthy.” McCarthy was ousted after eight Republicans joined all Democrats to support the motion.

However, Johnson had remained defiant, telling reporters earlier this month, “I am not resigning. And it is, in my view, an absurd notion.”

Meanwhile, some other House Republicans are quietly pursuing their own path to raising the threshold for the motion to vacate. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) announced the effort two weeks ago, and at least a dozen lawmakers have expressed support for the idea, a source familiar confirmed to the Washington Examiner.

“Again, we’ve got a small group of people who are upset that they’re not getting their way,” Dusty Johnson said in a video. “It’s the era of divided government. Nobody gets everything they want. They want to throw out the current speaker of the House. It’s a terrible idea. I’m working with a group of members to change the rules so they can’t get that done so that one knucklehead can’t put the whole House into disarray by forcing another speaker vote.”

Several Republicans have decried the motion to remove the second speaker over the course of one year, noting that although there haven’t been conversations about a rescue plan, they would hope Democrats would not aid in removing Johnson.

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