May 1, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Democrats laugh off Greene's plan to force Johnson ouster vote

Rep. Marjorie Taylore Greene at a press conference where she vowed to force a vote to vacate House Speaker Mike Johnson.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) listens as Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) speaks at the Capitol on May 1. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

House Democrats met Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's (R-Ga.) plan to force a vote on ousting Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) with dismissal and derision.

Why it matters: Democrats hope that a resounding defeat for Greene will crush her nascent revolt and discourage right-wing hardliners from continuing to try to throw the House into chaos.

  • "She is about to realize her inevitable irrelevance," one senior House Democrat told Axios just minutes after Greene made her announcement.
  • Another senior House Democrat cast Greene's motion as "drama that hurts Republicans."

Driving the news: During a press conference outside the Capitol on Wednesday morning, Greene told reporters she will force a vote on her motion to vacate the speaker's chair next week.

  • "Next week, I am going to be calling this motion to vacate. Absolutely. I'm calling it," 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 have to run for Congress again, having supported a Republican Speaker, a Christian conservative."

The backdrop: Greene's announcement comes just one day after House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and his leadership team announced they would vote to table – kill – any motion to vacate.

  • Most House Democrats are expected to stand behind him and vote to table the motion, senior Democratic sources told Axios.
  • "Most Democrats will follow Hakeem," said one of the senior House Democrats.

Zoom in: Rep. Becca Balint (D-Vt.), an openly gay progressive, told Axios she will vote to table "but I will not do it happily."

  • "Johnson's positions and actions on LGBTQ rights and reproductive rights are abhorrent to me and the vast majority of my constituents," she said, adding that her voters are "furious" about Johnson's role in Jan. 6.
  • But, she said, "my constituents and I want a functioning Congress. I will vote to end the chaos and to strip MTG of her power and influence."

Between the lines: One House Democrat speculated Johnson is "trying to bring this to a head so that Republicans are forced to decide between crazy and just plain old arch-conservative."

  • But, the lawmaker argued, Greene "has no choice. Her brand is to be a firebrand and constituents expect it. If she doesn't file the motion she looks weak."
  • "Filing it and losing is better for her crazy narrative about how all Republicans are Democrats now."
  • Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) argued Greene's tactic will backfire and "make Speaker Johnson even stronger and encourage him to work with Democrats."

The other side: There will be at least a small pocket of progressives who refuse to vote to table Greene's motion.

  • Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) told reporters she is "going to vote against tabling it."
  • "I respect what our leaders decided and I understand why he decided it, and I appreciate that he has been very clear this is a narrow, very narrow, one-time deal," she added.

The bottom line: "She raises money off chaos. That's her real goal," Rep. Greg Landsman (D-Ohio) said of Greene.

  • "Unfortunately for her, most of us are determined to govern."
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