US House rejects attempt to remove Mike Johnson as Speaker

Democrats join Republicans in protecting Speaker, avoiding replay of chaos after removal of Kevin McCarthy

Surviving US House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson. Reuters
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The US House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected an effort to remove Speaker Mike Johnson from his role.

Democrats joined Republicans in a 359-43 vote to protect Mr Johnson's speakership to avoid a replay of the chaos that followed the October removal of Republican Kevin McCarthy.

The motion to vacate had been brought by far-right Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, who accused Mr Johnson of caving to Democrats by allowing the eventual passing of a $95 billion foreign aid package.

He has angered many hardliners in his party by enacting bipartisan spending measures to avoid government shutdowns and aid US allies without insisting on strict security measures for the southern border, which Democrats reject.

The move by Ms Greene represented rare Republican defiance of presidential candidate Donald Trump, who had voiced support for Mr Johnson and called the drive to remove him “unfortunate”.

“Excuses like 'this is just how you have to govern in divided government' are pathetic, weak and unacceptable,” she said of Mr Johnson from the House floor.

“Even with our razor-thin Republican majority, we could have at least secured the border.”

But the chamber erupted in taunts and cheers at points as Ms Greene read her resolution, with Democrats at times chanting “Hakeem, Hakeem”.

It was a reference to their party leader, Hakeem Jeffries, and the many times they voted for him as speaker while the Republicans held vote after vote to fill the post since the current House was seated in January 2021.

Mr Jeffries agreed to save Mr Johnson from removal after freeing Congress from the roadblock of Republican infighting by delivering crucial Democratic support for crucial bills.

After Ms Greene began her call for his removal, Mr Johnson walked around the House floor, shaking hands with Republican supporters.

Ms Greene's bid to seek retribution by unseating the Speaker with a “motion to vacate” won support from only two other members of her party: Thomas Massie and Paul Gosar.

Updated: May 08, 2024, 10:48 PM