House Tables Marjorie Taylor Greene's Motion To Oust GOP Speaker Mike Johnson

WASHINGTON ― A long-running threat to Speaker Mike Johnson’s hold on power in the House of Representatives ended Wednesday with a whimper rather than a bang as most Democrats joined all but 11 Republicans to set aside a move to ouster him.

Though the vote to table the motion by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) was overwhelming ― 359 to 43, with seven voting “present” ― it’s unclear if the result means an end to a weeks-long intra-party struggle or just the beginning of a new chapter of infighting inside the House Republican conference.

“I appreciate the show of confidence from my colleagues to defeat this misguided effort,” Johnson (R-La.) said after the vote, in which he got the support of 196 of the 217 House Republicans.

“Hopefully, this is the end of the personality politics and the frivolous character assassination that has defined the 118th Congress.”

Greene was unrepentant.

“I’m proud of myself because this is the whole reason I ran for Congress,” she told reporters after the vote.

“I didn’t come up here to put it into cruise control and ride along and make it easy and just vote however they tell me to vote. I’m done with that Republican Party. That Republican Party has held hands with the Democrat Party for so long,” Greene said.

The outcome was not a surprise, since Democratic leaders had said they would provide votes to save Johnson’s gavel if Greene force the vote. But Greene had appeared to back off her threat, which she first made against Johnson in March. She said Tuesday that the “ball is in his court” after meeting with the speaker.

Lawmakers booed loudly on the House floor when they realized Greene would trigger the vote against Johnson after all, using a power afforded any member under current House rules. It was then up to Johnson’s leadership team to act on her motion within two days, and they opted to kill it immediately, before lawmakers left town until next week.

Greene has claimed that Johnson is effectively a Democrat because in recent weeks he has allowed bipartisan votes on funding the government, supplying arms to Ukraine and reauthorizing spy agencies’ warrantless wiretapping powers.

Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said Democrats shielded Johnson from being ousted because they wanted less chaos, a veiled reference to the three weeks in October when the House came to a virtual standstill as Republicans bickered over who should succeed the ousted Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as speaker.

“Marjorie Taylor Greene and the extreme [Make America Great Again] Republicans are chaos agents. House Democrats are change agents,” Jeffries said in a statement after 163 out of 213 Democrats voted to table the motion to eject Johnson.

Not all Democrats were happy helping Johnson, though, who only hours earlier had raised hackles by having a news conference on alleged worries about undocumented immigrants voting in federal elections on the same House steps where, on Jan. 6, 2021, insurrectionists attacked the U.S. Capitol.

She’s not the face of the Republican Party. She doesn’t speak for us. You all give her a lot of attention, but she’s not the Republican Party.Rep. Carlos Giménez (R-Fla.)

“While the motion to table is a procedural step, I could not vote to save a Speaker who does not reflect the values my constituents and I hold dear and has proven to be an ineffective leader who must be up against the wall to do the right thing,” said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.). She was one of 32 Democrats voting to allow a vote on getting rid of Johnson.

In addition to most members of his own party and most Democrats, Johnson had late support from another key figure: former president and likely next GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

On his social media site, Trump said he liked Greene but that Republicans were not in a good position for the vote she sought.

“At some point, we may very well be, but this is not the time,” he wrote. “Mike Johnson is a good man who is trying very hard. I also wish certain things were done over the last period of two months, but we will get them done, together.”

Greene said she thought she still had Trump’s support, despite the post. “I’ll tell you what he needs: He needs Republican members who will fight for him,” she said.

The vote removes a political sword of Damocles that has been hanging over Johnson for weeks, just as Republicans want to put the White House on the defensive about immigration, inflation and antisemitism. But while the Band-Aid may have finally been ripped off, it could take some time before there’s any healing.

As Greene began talking to reporters and claimed to represent the true spirit of the party, moderate Rep. Carlos Giménez (R-Fla.) shot back from a few feet away, “No, you’re not.”

“She’s not the face of the Republican Party. She doesn’t speak for us. You all give her a lot of attention, but she’s not the Republican Party,” he said later.

He declined to say whether Greene should be punished in some way for calling the vote, but the prospect was already on Greene’s mind.

“They probably want to kick me kick me off committees. They probably want to primary [me]. I say go ahead,” she said. “That’s their problem.”

Gimenez said he was angered that, despite her claims, Greene was actually hurting the party, not helping it.

“The only purpose it serves is it helps our opponents, and that really upsets me,” he said.

“I believe we need to save America, and the only way to save America is for the Republican Party to actually have a majority. This doesn’t help.”