© 2024 Allbritton Journalism Institute
Marjorie Taylor Greene, Thomas Massie
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Move Against Mike Johnson Failed

Few Republicans joined her in her bid to remove the speaker.

After months of publicly bashing House Speaker Mike Johnson, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene brought her motion to vacate the speakership to the floor. It promptly failed.

“Mike Johnson worked with Chuck Schumer and gave Joe Biden and the Democrats everything they wanted, no different from how a Speaker Hakeem Jeffries would have done,” Greene said on the House floor.

The House voted to kill the motion almost immediately after she brought it forward. It resoundingly failed, 359-43, with only 11 Republicans and 32 Democrats voting against the motion to table.

“I’m glad we could put this distraction behind us,” Johnson said after the vote. “In this moment, the country desperately needs a functioning Congress. That’s what most [of] the members showed today.”

The result is not a surprise. House Democratic leadership said they would vote to table the motion to vacate, thereby ensuring that Greene wouldn’t have the votes. But she and fellow co-sponsor Rep. Thomas Massie have insisted on bringing it to the floor to have “a recorded vote” of where members stood.

“I mean, I will give her this credit,” Rep. Marc Molinaro said. “We basically said, ‘Put up or shut up.’ She put up, and now it’s time to shut up.”

“I’m not for the members that want to go along to get along up here,” Greene told reporters after the vote failed. Greene said Democrats “saved” Johnson’s speakership.

“That is the most terrifying thing to our constituents and to the American people,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what the rest of the conference feels, they just want everything to be easy and simple for them.”

Other Republicans were frustrated with her attempted rebellion.

Standing feet behind Greene and a mountain of media after the vote, Rep. Mike Lawler talked to a reporter about the ridiculous scene. Greene’s deputy chief, Nick Dyer, looked at him and smiled. Lawler didn’t reciprocate, telling Dyer he didn’t care if he was on her staff. “Get your shit and get out of here,” he told him.

Fellow GOP Georgia Rep. Austin Scott called the motion “counterproductive.”

“Candidly, I think there should be consequences.” Scott said. “Absolutely, this is damaging to the Republican Party.”

Greene and Johnson met multiple times this week, totaling over three hours. In the meetings, Greene said she pushed Johnson to bring up 12 separate fiscal 2025 appropriations bills, defund special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into former President Donald Trump and obey the Hastert rule, an informal tradition where leaders only bring up a bill if it has a majority of the majority party’s support.

But much of Greene’s ire at Johnson is aimed at Ukraine. In her remarks on the floor, she bashed Johnson for bringing supplemental aid to Ukraine up for a vote as part of a broader national security supplemental package.

Rep. Chip Roy, one of the Republicans who voted against tabling the motion, said his decision was easy. “Honestly, it wasn’t that tough of a question,” he said after the vote. “He said he was going to secure the border of the United States before funding Ukraine — that didn’t happen.”

Immediately prior to the vote, Trump posted on Truth Social that while he “absolutely love[s]” Greene, “this is not the time” for the motion to vacate.”

“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.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz — who successfully moved to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy last fall — said Greene “should be commended,” but that he voted to table her motion because of the House’s slim Republican majority.

He wrote on X that he thinks a few Republicans “could be susceptible to bribes” to side with Democrats, and that, “We must be led better.”

“The reality of this is, this is like the congressional version of a temper tantrum,” Rep. Kelly Armstrong said of the motion.

Greene first introduced the motion to vacate in March but didn’t privilege the resolution, calling it a warning for Johnson more than an actual call to oust him from Republican leadership. When Massie joined her as a co-sponsor a month later, he also said the motion was just a way to pressure Johnson to step down on his own.

But the national security supplemental changed things for the pair.

Beyond Rep. Paul Gosar, the two have not yet garnered more public support from the conference. And when Democratic leadership announced last week that they would vote for a motion to table — thereby keeping Johnson in charge — the motion was destined for failure.

“There’s no capacity to understand the need to work together with a team and no capacity to actually and honestly negotiate,” Molinaro said just before the vote to table.

“She is engaging in a failing act of political theater,” Main Street Caucus Chair Dusty Johnson said. “What you have here are the mainstream members that are acting like adults, and we’re going to do what adults do. We are going to ignore the tantrums and instead are going to actually govern this country.”

When asked by NOTUS about the accusation that the whole motion-to-vacate affair was for media attention or fundraising, Greene said, “I’m not even answering that question.”