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Johnson Survives Greene’s Ouster Attempt as Democrats Join G.O.P. to Kill It

Johnson Survives Greene’s Ouster Attempt as Democrats Join G.O.P. to Kill It

Speaker Mike Johnson on Wednesday easily batted down an attempt by Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia to oust him from his post, after Democrats linked arms with most Republicans to fend off a second attempt by G.O.P. hard-liners to strip the gavel from their party leader.

The vote to kill the effort was an overwhelming 359 to 43, with seven Democrats voting “present.”

Unlike the ouster that toppled Kevin McCarthy last fall, Democrats flocked to Mr. Johnson’s rescue, with all but 39 of them voting with Republicans to kill the effort to oust him. In addition to the seven who voted “present,” registering no position, 32 Democrats voted against blocking Ms. Greene’s motion.

And this time, Ms. Greene, who had supported Mr. McCarthy as speaker, found herself on a political island. Only 11 Republicans voted in favor of moving forward with a vote on ousting Mr. Johnson.

Ms. Greene’s move came roughly three weeks after Mr. Johnson pushed through a long-stalled $95 billion national security spending package to aid Israel, Ukraine and other American allies over the objections of Ms. Greene and other right-wing Republicans who staunchly opposed sending additional aid to Kyiv.

But as she rose on the House floor to bring up her resolution declaring the speakership vacant, Ms. Greene appeared to be 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.

“Given a choice between advancing Republican priorities or allying with Democrats to preserve his own personal power, Johnson regularly chooses to ally himself with Democrats,” Ms. Greene said.

She concluded with the official call for his removal: “Now, therefore be it resolved that the office of the speaker of the House of Representatives is hereby declared to be vacant.”

Lawmakers widely 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.

It marked the second time in less than a year that Republicans have sought to depose their own speaker, coming about seven months after G.O.P. rebels made Mr. McCarthy the only person in history to have been removed from the post.

And Ms. Greene had made clear that even if her attempt to depose Mr. Johnson were unsuccessful, she still saw value in publicly undermining him.

“If he remains speaker with” Democrats’ help, she recently wrote on social media, “he’s fully compromised.”

Her move came after a two-day stretch of meetings this week with Mr. Johnson, in which she tried to negotiate a series of demands in exchange for not calling the ouster vote. Among the demands were cutting off all future U.S. aid to Ukraine, defunding the Justice Department, and imposing a 1 percent across the board cut on all spending bills if lawmakers are unable to negotiate a deal to fund the government in September.

“What I’m demanding is simple,” Ms. Greene said on Tuesday on Steve Bannon’s podcast, War Room. “We need to act like Republicans. We need to demand control and we need to stop the government from being used for politics.”

Mr. Johnson, for his part, told reporters that he was not negotiating with Ms. Greene and Mr. Massie. “Part of the job is taking suggestions and ideas from members, and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.

Ms. Greene initially filed the motion against Mr. Johnson in late March, just as lawmakers were voting on a $1.2 trillion spending bill he pushed through the House over the opposition of the majority of Republicans. She called the move a “betrayal” and said she wanted to send the speaker a “warning,” then left the threat dangling for weeks.

Mr. Johnson plowed ahead anyway, putting together an aid package for Ukraine — a move Ms. Greene previously said was a red line that would prompt her to seek his ouster, but which did not lead her to immediately make good on her threat.

“I’m actually going to let my colleagues go home and hear from their constituents,” Ms. Greene said following the vote, predicting that Republicans would join her bid to get rid of Mr. Johnson after getting an earful from voters irate about the foreign aid bill. Instead, many of them heard just the opposite and returned to Washington voicing skepticism about removing Mr. Johnson.

Her move on Wednesday paved the way for only the second vote on the House floor in more than 100 years on whether to oust the speaker. When Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida instigated Mr. McCarthy’s removal in October, such a spectacle had not been seen in the chamber since 1910.

This time, Ms. Greene has drawn little support for removing Mr. Johnson. House Republicans are wary of throwing the chamber into another period of chaos like the one that paralyzed the House for weeks after Mr. McCarthy’s ouster, and have privately seethed about the public disarray Ms. Greene’s threat would sow.

Even ultraconservatives like Mr. Gaetz have expressed uneasiness with firing another speaker, suggesting that the move risked handing over control of the House to Democrats given Republicans’ rapidly narrowing margin of control.

Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the minority leader, who initially hinted in February that Democrats would be inclined to rescue Mr. Johnson if he faced a mutiny after moving to send aid to Ukraine, made it official last week in a joint statement with the party’s two other top leaders in the House. That would be a sharp contrast to October, when Democrats unanimously joined eight hard-right Republicans in voting to oust Mr. McCarthy.

The backing from Democrats prompted Ms. Greene to recommit to her threat.

“If the Democrats want to elect him Speaker (and some Republicans want to support the Democrats’ chosen Speaker), I’ll give them the chance to do it,” Ms. Greene wrote on social media. “I’m a big believer in recorded votes because putting Congress on record allows every American to see the truth and provides transparency to our votes.”

“Americans deserve to see the Uniparty on full display,” she said. “I’m about to give them their coming out party!”

Still, she hesitated this week, meeting at length with Mr. Johnson on Monday and again on Tuesday before making her move.

Mr. Johnson has called Ms. Greene’s resolution a “distraction” at a time when House Republicans have the smallest majority in American history.

“This motion is wrong for the Republican Conference, wrong for the institution, and wrong for the country,” he said last week.

Kayla Guo and Carl Hulse contributed reporting.

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