Politics

MTG Pulls the Trigger, Forces House to Vote to Expel Speaker Johnson

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has filed a privileged motion to vacate the chair, forcing the House to vote within two legislative days to eject Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA).

Johnson is expected to immediately move to table – and effectively kill – the motion, a vote which requires a simple majority. Yet House rules do not prohibit Greene, or any other lawmaker, from forcing additional votes, and she and her allies have not tipped their hand as to what they’ll do should the motion be killed.

Further, Johnson’s immediate future, despite assurances from Johnson-friendly media outlets, is far from certain. Some Republicans, including those who will vote against ejecting Johnson, may vote against the tabling motion out of principle. Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) has announced he would do so, although he has not said how he will vote on the motion to vacate itself.

Greene pulled the trigger Wednesday after almost two months of warnings for Johnson to end his coalition government with Democrats, during which the endangered Speaker unleashed a torrent of President Joe Biden’s priorities into law.

While long anticipated, the motion’s inevitability seemed to wane this week as Greene and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) met Monday and Tuesday with Johnson for a combined three hours to discuss a path forward. The pair proposed four accountability measures to ensure the Speaker would not advance an agenda opposed by a majority of Republicans, including preventing further American funding of Ukraine’s faraway war.

Johnson had continued to state he was hearing the duo out and considering their proposals, yet insisting it was “not a negotiation.”

But Tuesday evening, after complaining (yet again) he had not been getting enough sleep, Johnson appeared to let the veil drop, sneering and rolling his eyes when asked if he would give Greene an answer soon.

Johnson bit his lip and fought back a giggle as off-camera laughter – presumably from reporters – echoed throughout the Capitol’s Statuary Hall.

Before Johnson’s insulting outburst, the two conservatives insisted they had offered a path for Johnson to “come home” to the Republican Party that had elevated him to the speakership.

But they insisted they were tired of talk and wanted action from the Speaker.

Greene and Massie reportedly pushed this week for Johnson to fight for inclusion of some conservative priorities – namely defunding the special counsel “lawfare” plaguing Trump – into the must-pass Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) reauthorization bill. Johnson had surrendered initiative on the FAA bill to the Senate, while the House spent the week considering legislation like the Hands Off Our Home Appliances Act.

Instead, Wednesday afternoon, Johnson unexpectedly scheduled a vote on a one-week FAA extension that would give Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) more time to finalize a deal before the Friday night deadline. Johnson then canceled House votes for the remainder of the week, giving his Members a long weekend while Schumer and his Senate continued toiling.

Johnson’s message seemed clear – once again, he would not put up a fight.

Now Johnson, a self-proclaimed “wartime Speaker,” has a fight on his hands, although it’s Democrats who are rushing to his side.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) pledged in late April to deliver Johnson the votes to table the motion to vacate, further fueling swirling Capitol Hill rumors that Johnson had made secret concessions with Democrats beyond delivering them their greatest priorities for months.

In that joint statement announcing their pledge, Jeffries and House Democrat leadership praised Johnson for partnering with a “bipartisan coalition” that included Biden and “traditional Republicans” to “[push] back against MAGA extremism” and unleash tens of billions in aid to Ukraine and Gaza.

Jeffries’ justification for endorsing the Republican speaker became clear when he stated in a Sunday CBS broadcast that Democrats have controlled the House agenda under Johnson.

“Even though we’re in the minority, we effectively have been governing as if we were in the majority because we continue to provide a majority of the votes necessary to get things done,” he told CBS. “Those are just the facts.”

While the boldness of Jeffries’ boast was shocking, its substance was not in question, as the CBS presenter acknowledged.

Johnson’s standing with Republicans further weakened late Tuesday when Trump signaled approval of Greene’s fight against Johnson.

Johnson had been insisting to media for weeks that Trump wished for Greene to hold off. The Speaker used routine photo opps and tepid Trump statements that Johnson was doing a “good job” – slim praise from the notoriously verbose president – as justification for Trump’s support.

That justification now seems dubious.

Johnson has steadily marched towards today’s vote since the earliest days of his reign, when he abandoned House Republicans’ work passing individual spending bills and instead passed the first of what turned into three continuing resolutions. Massie has spoken often of Johnson’s “three betrayals,” specifying Johnson funding Biden’s spending policies — at even higher spending levels than the omnibus bill last passed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Schumer – forcing through a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) extension without a requirement to require warrants before spying on Americans, and sending tens of billions of American taxpayers’ dollars in foreign aid despite securing no progress on border security.

Johnson astonished his colleagues when he reversed his long-held position to cast the deciding vote on the warrant requirement amendment. He also reversed his opposition to additional aid to Ukraine after promising on multiple occasions for months never to move a foreign aid bill without first securing the border.

Despite that record, Johnson told the media he is the “most conservative” Speaker ever to wield the gavel. Yet days later, he reportedly told high-dollar donors at the swanky Four Seasons in Washington that he supported stripping committee assignments from conservatives who blocked his agenda. He also said he would support changing the rules at the end of this Congress to water down the motion to vacate that currently hangs over his head.

Democrats have only committed to saving Johnson in an initial motion to table vote. If that vote fails, or Greene forces additional votes, Democrat support is expected to fall off.

This is a developing story.

Bradley Jaye is a Capitol Hill Correspondent for Breitbart News. Follow him on X/Twitter at @BradleyAJaye.



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