Sun. May 26th, 2024

Greene’s motion to vacate vote leaves conservatives with no easy options

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May22,2024

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) decision to force action on ousting Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has created a dilemma for some rank-and-file Republicans who will now face a tough choice: vote to boot a party leader endorsed by former President Trump, or join forces with Democrats to protect a figure loathed by many conservatives.

Greene’s resolution, which is expected to reach the floor next week, is likely to fail given the promise from Democratic leaders to keep Johnson in power for the sake of chamber stability. But the Georgia firebrand is pushing ahead, arguing the importance of getting every House lawmaker on the record so voters are crystal clear where everyone stands on Johnson’s leadership track record.

“Every member of Congress needs to take that vote,” she said. “I can’t wait to see Democrats go out and support a Republican Speaker and have to go home to their primaries. … And I also can’t wait to see my Republican conference show their cards and show who we are.

“Are they willing to actually fight? Or are they going to just keep going along to get along?”

Many Republicans share Greene’s frustrations with Johnson’s penchant for bipartisan deal-making, but they were also hoping to avoid the motion-to-vacate vote. With that in mind, even some of Johnson’s staunchest GOP critics have sought in recent weeks to defuse Greene’s effort, wary of sparking an internal party clash heading into November when control of the House is up for grabs. 

“These tools exist for reasons, but they should be deployed sparingly,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said this week. “Right now, we’re six months out, ish, from the election and we need to focus on that.”

But Greene and her army of two — Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) — are plowing ahead with their mission to oust Johnson, a move that is poised to put many on the right flank in a tricky position as they grapple with a pair of undesirable options. 

Hard-liners are furious with Johnson for his willingness to forge deals with President Biden and Democrats on big-ticket legislation, including the recent passage of bills to extend federal funding, reauthorize the U.S.’s warrantless surveillance powers and muscle through a foreign aid package, which included roughly $61 billion for Ukraine.

Yet few Republicans on Capitol Hill want to put any daylight between themselves and Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee who has gone out of his way to praise Johnson’s Speakership performance — a promotional campaign that’s seemed to grow only more pronounced since Greene first filed her vacate motion last month. 

“I stand with the Speaker,” Trump said as he hosted Johnson at Mar-a-Lago last month. “He’s doing a really good job under very tough circumstances.”

Plus, some hard-liners are concerned about plunging the House into chaos so close to the November elections — a disorderly display that could pull down the party when voters head to the polls and decide control of the chamber next year.

“I don’t think there’s anything to be gained by having a motion to vacate the chair at this point in time,” Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) said.

Those Republicans inclined to keep Johnson in power also face political risks. Not only is the far right outraged with his legislative record — a message Republicans are hearing each time they return to their districts — but to preserve the Speaker’s power they’ll have to team up with Democrats, fueling charges that Republicans on Capitol Hill have abandoned their conservative roots to join the “Uniparty.”

“You get to have the choice if you’re a Republican,” Massie said Wednesday. “Are you going to embrace Hakeem Jeffries, like Mike Johnson has? Are you going to embrace the Uniparty, like Mike Johnson has, when you come back next week? Or are you going to fight for Americans who gave us the majority?” 

The promise by Democrats to cross the aisle to rescue Johnson marked an extraordinary development in the Speakership drama that’s practically defined this Congress — an unprecedented case of the minority party vowing to save an opposing leader from political ruin. 

Complicating the Democrats decision, they’ve been fierce critics of Johnson’s conservative record on Capitol Hill, particularly on issues like abortion and gay rights, and there remains plenty of lingering animosity over his role as the architect of the legal argument for the Republicans’ effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election.  

Still, Democrats are framing their rescue mission not as a vote in favor of Johnson, but as a vote against Greene and the legislative stalemate that would follow if she were successful and Republicans were forced to conduct another long and chaotic search for a viable new Speaker. Those Democrats are voicing concerns that another Speaker fight would hobble Congress’s ability to pass upcoming legislation such as the Farm Bill and reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration. 

“This has nothing to do with Speaker Johnson,” said Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.), head of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Their show of support, however, is opening up the visual of Republicans supporting a Speaker who is propped up by Democrats, an extraordinary dynamic that Greene and Massie are highlighting as they look to grow the support behind their motion to vacate.

During a press conference Wednesday morning, Greene and Massie displayed two large photos of Johnson and Jeffries, and the podium featured a new sign: “Hakeem Jeffries endorsed Mike Johnson the uniparty Speaker.”

“Now we have Hakeem Jeffries and the Democrats coming out, embracing Mike Johnson with a warm hug and a big, wet, sloppy kiss,” Greene said. “They have endorsed him, they are ready to support him as Speaker, they want to keep it going, keep the band together. Why? Because Mike Johnson is giving them everything they want.”

The pressure surrounding the looming motion-to-vacate vote is rising as Greene seeks to tie the outcome to next year’s House majority. The firebrand argued Wednesday that Republicans will lose the upper hand in the House if Johnson remains atop the conference from now until November.

“We have to have a Republican majority in January, and under Mike Johnson’s leadership we’re not going to have one,” Greene said. “Hakeem Jeffries is endorsing Mike Johnson because he knows Mike Johnson’s leadership is going to hand the House majority to the Democrats in January.”

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “Greene’s motion to vacate vote leaves conservatives with no easy options”
  1. Every member of Congress needs to take that vote,” she said. “I can’t wait to see Democrats go out and support a Republican Speaker and have to go home to their primaries. … And I also can’t wait to see my Republican conference show their cards and show who we are. Are they willing to actually fight? Or are they going to just keep going along to get along?”

  2. It’s a tricky situation for Republicans indeed. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s bold move has certainly stirred the pot. I believe every member should stand up and make their stance known, regardless of alliances. The upcoming vote will reveal where everyone’s loyalties truly lie. Will we see true conviction or mere complacency? Time will tell.

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