Greene Plows Ahead, Fails To Remove Johnson

[ Posted Wednesday, May 8th, 2024 – 16:55 UTC ]

When you're wrong, you're wrong. Yesterday, I was wrong. I certainly wasn't the only one in the political media to be wrong, but I've learned to admit your mistakes as they happen and try to move on.

In a surprise move today, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene forced a vote in the House of Representatives on her "motion to vacate the chair," which (if successful) would have ousted Speaker Mike Johnson from his leadership role. Only yesterday it seemed she had accepted defeat and would not be forcing the issue, but (as we said yesterday, in our defense): "With Greene, you never really know what she'll do next...."

Today, Greene decided to perform her stunt even knowing full well it was going to fail. And it did fail -- spectacularly. A preliminary vote was held on a motion to "table" (or "ignore," essentially) Greene's motion. If the preliminary vote had failed, the House would have then moved to vote on Greene's motion to vacate the chair. But the preliminary vote was overwhelmingly in favor of ignoring Greene and for keeping Johnson as speaker. In the end, only 11 Republicans voted against Johnson, which is not much of an uprising. The final tally was 359 to 43, with 196 Republicans voting to table the motion along with a whopping 163 Democrats. Only 32 Democrats voted against tabling the motion, while seven Democrats merely voted: "Present."

This is absolutely unprecedented, it bears mentioning. A majority of the House Democrats just voted to save a Republican speaker. Without their support, Johnson would have faced the same fate that befell Kevin McCarthy last year -- the first time a speaker had ever been deposed.

The New York Times reported how unpopular Greene's motion truly was:

But as she rose on the House floor to bring up her resolution declaring the speakership vacant, [Representative Marjorie Taylor] Greene was engaging in a mostly symbolic move. Only two other Republicans, Representatives Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Paul Gosar of Arizona, had publicly said they would support the motion, and Democratic leaders had said their members would join an effort to kill any ouster attempt against Mr. Johnson.

Lawmakers loudly booed Ms. Greene as she called up the resolution and jeered several times as she read it aloud. As she recited the measure, a grievance-laden screed that lasted more than 10 minutes, Republicans lined up on the House floor to shake Mr. Johnson's hand and pat him on the back.

Johnson reacted with some optimism, after the vote:

"I appreciate the show of confidence from my colleagues to defeat this misguided effort," Mr. Johnson told reporters shortly after the Wednesday's vote. "As I've said from the beginning and I've made clear here every day, I intend to do my job. I intend to do what I believe to be the right thing, which is what I was elected to do, and I'll let the chips fall where they may. In my view, that is leadership."

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

Well, that's a nice thing to wish for, Mister Speaker, but I wouldn't exactly hold my breath waiting for it, if you know what I mean.

Marjorie Taylor Greene and all the other Chaos Caucus Republicans only truly crave one thing, and that is attention. They see politics as nothing more than performance art. Getting things done matters not at all to them, what is important is that people pay attention to them and they get their faces splashed across the media. They feed the worst impulses of the Republican base (which, these days, are pretty odious) and then use each bit of political theater to fundraise.

Greene simply does not care that by her vote today she has weakened Johnson as a speaker within the Republican ranks, and she does not care that if she had succeeded it might have doomed Republicans' chances of retaining control of the House this November. Even Donald Trump strongly coming out against the idea of ousting Johnson didn't stop Greene from plowing ahead with her stunt. The more she gets her name in the media the better, as far as she is concerned. That's what keeps the dollars rolling in, after all.

Some will doubtlessly hail today's vote as some sort of magic turning point in the House. "The crazies have been sidelined!" will be the upshot of this argument. But that's not so clear, really. They have been sidelined for now, but who knows what the future will bring? The difference between yesterday and today plainly shows that.

The next go-round might be different. The threat still remains -- any one hotheaded GOP House member can file a motion to vacate at any time for any reason. And there is a lot of time left in the current Congress until January (when the newly-elected House will be seated). Democrats have let it be known that saving Johnson this time doesn't necessarily mean they'll do so again -- at least, not without some sort of concessions from Johnson. Greene and the other hotheads know this -- and there is nothing stopping them from trying again next week (or tomorrow, for that matter).

Johnson is already weakened among Republicans for having to rely on Democratic votes to save his job. Greene is already calling him "the Democrats' chosen Speaker" on social media. What will happen if Johnson has to bargain some power away to the Democrats to keep his job next time around?

It is fascinating, in a rubbernecking-at-a-trainwreck sort of way, to watch the Republican revolutionaries eat their own. Johnson was hailed for being "the most conservative Republican speaker ever" when he first ascended to the job, but this isn't enough for the likes of Greene. Johnson keeps actually doing his job and passing bipartisan legislation that can make it (or has made it) through the Democratic Senate -- which absolutely enrages Greene, who has delusions of grandeur at the power of a Republican House in a divided government. Johnson will likely continue to do his job, which means that Greene could throw another legislative hand grenade at any moment. And next time around, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries might have a few preconditions before his Democrats step in to save Johnson once again. Which would only serve to weaken Johnson more.

Greene doesn't care about any of this. As long as the dollars keep rolling in and she gets her face on conservative media, she's happy. That's the obvious conclusion after watching her tilt at the motion-to-vacate windmill today.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


6 Comments on “Greene Plows Ahead, Fails To Remove Johnson”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    When you're wrong, you're wrong.

    Well, there are only a couple or three here in Weigantia who are never wrong.

    So, you are in good company! :-)

  2. [2] 
    Kick wrote:

    In the end, only 11 Republicans voted against Johnson, which is not much of an uprising.

    Wow. So Moron Marge put her bill on the floor and garnered the support of a whopping 11 Republicans (including herself), which is only slightly higher than her IQ. Maybe she'll now have a greater appreciation for Nancy Pelosi and her "gazpacho police."

    Now she can get on with the business of not becoming Donald Trump's vice presidential running mate.

  3. [3] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    gotta watch out for the gazpacho police with their Jewish space lasers.

    Raspberry. There's only one man who would dare give me the raspberry: Lone Star!

  4. [4] 
    Kick wrote:

    So, at last we meet for the first time for the last time.


  5. [5] 
    andygaus wrote:

    Bipartisan resolution passes the House:
    "Be it resolved that we are all seriously tired of the space laser lady."

  6. [6] 
    Kick wrote:

    Marjorie Taylor Greene: I can't figure out how I was dumb enough to believe in Jewish space lasers.

    Kristi Noem: I cannot believe I was foolish enough to inform voting citizens that I shot and killed my puppy.

    Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.: Hold my brain eating dead worm.

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