Democrats say they would save Republican speaker amid possible effort to oust him

Top Democrats said they would vote to table motion to vacate brought by Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene

Gustaf Kilander
Washington DC
,Eric Garcia
Tuesday 30 April 2024 18:50 BST
Related video: Momentum builds to oust House Speaker Johnson

House Democrats have announced that they will vote to save Speaker Mike Johnson if far-right Republicans choose to trigger a motion to vacate to remove him.

The motion is being pushed by MAGA Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, but it has struggled to garner support even among some of the Republicans who voted to oust Mr Johnson’s predecessor as speaker, Kevin McCarthy.

Mr Johnson has faced criticism from the right flank of his party after going ahead with a vote to send aid to Ukraine as part of a $95bn foreign aid package that also included funds for Israel and Taiwan.

The top three House Democrats, Representatives Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark, and Pete Aguilar, said in a statement that “at this moment, upon completion of our national security work, the time has come to turn the page on this chapter of Pro-Putin Republican obstruction”.

“We will vote to table Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Motion to Vacate the Chair. If she invokes the motion, it will not succeed,” they added.

New York Republican Representative Anthony D’Esposito told The Independent, “I think there's going to be plenty of Republicans that are [going to] support Speaker Johnson – nobody wants to go down the same road we were in months ago”.

“The Democrats realize that they sided with the wrong bunch in the last motion,” he added.

In October last year, every single Democrat in attendance voted to oust Mr McCarthy.

Speaker Mike Johnson looks likely to be able to hold on to the gavel
Speaker Mike Johnson looks likely to be able to hold on to the gavel (AP)

Maryland Democratic Representative Glenn Ivey said he would follow Mr Jeffries’s lead.

“A few people spoke in the caucus this morning, but I don't know what the total numbers would be,” he said of the Democratic votes on the matter.

Republican Representatives Anna Paulina Luna and Tim Burchett both said they don’t think the motion will be triggered.

“I don't think it's going to happen, if it does, I don't think it's going to pass,” Mr Burchett said. The Tennessee representative was one of the eight Republicans who voted to oust Mr McCarthy.

“I think that there's a lot of shady dealings here in Washington and we understand at least for my voters too it's like, people don't like what Johnson’s doing. I don't like what he’s doing. But we don't want to risk the gavel to Hakeem [Jeffries],” Ms Luna said.

When asked if she would join a motion to vacate, Republican Representative Nancy Mace told The Independent: “Hell no, I’m still getting over the first one.”

“Why would you pull this stunt when you know it’s not going to pass?” she asked.

The announcement from the Democratic leadership ensures that Mr Johnson is set to hold on to the gavel amid near-daily speculation about his future as speaker.

It was a struggle for Mr Johnson to pass government funding as well as renewing a surveillance programme and pass the foreign aid package. Several times, he had to rely on the help of Democrats to get things through, leading to right-wing Republicans complaining that their narrow majority has effectively been lost.

“It looks like we got a chance to get some things done – the national security measure is a big one – things like that in the future,” Mr Ivey told The Independent. “That's perfect. That's positive for us in a bipartisan way.”

Ms Greene filed the motion to vacate earlier this month but chose not to push for it to be considered immediately. The motion has two co-sponsors – Republican Representatives Thomas Massie and Paul Gosar.

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