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Johnson’s Speakership on Life Support After MTG Files a MTV

The $1.2 trillion minibus is headed to the Senate, but will House Speaker Mike Johnson be headed for the door?

Congress Considers Spending Bill To Avert Government Shutdown

While the $1.2 trillion, 1,012-page minibus is on its way to the Senate, House Speaker Mike Johnson could be on his way out of the Speaker’s office.

Just before noon on Friday, the House passed the $1.2 trillion minibus, a bundle of six appropriations bills loaded with earmarks, by a vote of 286–134. Just 101 Republicans, less than a majority of the GOP conference, supported the more than 1,000-page bill that was released less than 36 hours before the vote. In forcing the passage of the minibus, Johnson violated a number of rules conservative House members negotiated with former Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California in exchange for McCarthy becoming speaker, such as 72 hours to consider legislation and various government funding metrics.

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One Republican member particularly outraged by Johnson’s decision? Georgia’s Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. “Remember, last Congress we were all complaining: ‘We can’t even read these thousands of pages before we have to vote on them.’ We’re now back to the House of hypocrites, and I'm so sick and tired of it,” Greene said. 

On Friday, Greene hinted she’d file a motion to vacate Johnson as speaker if Johnson overrode the will of the GOP conference in an interview with Steve Bannon. Just past 11 a.m. eastern time, that’s exactly what Greene did. She marched up to the House parliamentarian’s staff and handed them a resolution. The resolution, later confirmed to be a motion to vacate when Greene posted photos of it on Twitter, headed for the hopper.

“Why throw out a speaker for supposedly breaking the rules, and now we have a new speaker that is really breaking all the rules. So like, what changed?” Greene claimed before filing the motion. “All the precious rules are being broken.”

Yet Greene left the floor before heading to the rostrum to ask for privilege on the resolution. If Greene does go up to the microphone to ask for privilege at some point on Friday, leadership would be able to delay consideration of the motion for two days, which would take the issue into the two-week-long Easter recess. For now, the motion to vacate Johnson remains in the hopper.

Greene is an odd character to lead the charge against Johnson. When conservatives banded together to oust McCarthy after he worked with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to pass a continuing resolution with mostly Democratic votes instead of appropriations bills, Greene was one of McCarthy’s most vocal defenders. Now, Johnson has passed actual appropriations bills, though conservative wins are few and far between. Whether or not Greene’s past as a McCarthy backer, which has alienated Greene from some of her conservative colleagues, boosts or undermines Greene’s credibility in asking to vacate Johnson remains to be seen. It’s possible, however, that Greene’s character and credibility has very little to do with whether the motion succeeds.

After the string of defeats Johnson has suffered—which, to be fair, are mostly the fault of his predecessor and his Senate counterpart, the lame duck Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—other members might be just as fed up with Johnson. And with the GOP’s razor-thin margins in the House, Greene will only need a few allies to vacate Johnson. As it stands now, Republicans hold 219 seats, and Democrats hold 213. Three vacancies will soon become four as Republican Rep. Ken Buck will be stepping down at the end of the day Friday. Nevertheless, while the razor-thin margins makes it easy to vacate Johnson, it also might make it even more difficult for Republicans to replace him.

At this point, Johnson has to be asking himself if it was all worth it. It’s true: If the minibus does not receive the president’s signature before Friday’s end, the government would enter a partial shutdown. It’s best to avoid shutdowns, surely, but is a shutdown the worst thing in the world? Not when you can win the politics, and not when it’s just over the weekend. “I probably shouldn’t say this. But if we shut down, like, Friday night, nothing gets affected,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a GOP appropriator, claimed. “If there’s a shutdown for a weekend, that becomes a technicality more than a real problem.”

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