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Democrats save Republican US House speaker from right-wing rebel

By AFP

May 9, 2024 11:37 AM


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Democrats voted to rescue the Republican leader of the US House of Representatives on Wednesday after a right-wing lawmaker moved to topple him, plunging the already-divided party into fresh conflict ahead of November's elections.

Under House rules, any single lawmaker can force a vote to oust Speaker Mike Johnson, and Marjorie Taylor Greene finally pulled the trigger more than six weeks after filing a "motion to vacate" his position atop the Republican majority.

The Georgia conservative was booed by colleagues as she formally announced the effort on the House floor, reeling off a litany of grievances over Johnson's leadership.

She accused the speaker of "regularly" siding with Democrats to consolidate power and of running a party that "fuels foreign wars, tramples on civil liberties and increases our disastrous national debt."

But Greene had failed to gain traction among her colleagues and, crucially, she was not supported by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who recently said the speaker was "doing a very good job."

Greene was also opposed by the Democratic leadership, and it was never in doubt that the effort would fall flat. In the end 163 Democrats joined Republicans in a 359-43 vote to dismiss the resolution.

Greene, a fervent Trump ally, had two public supporters but none of the broader backing on the right that prompted the removal last year of Johnson's predecessor, Kevin McCarthy.

She plowed ahead anyway, seeking to make Republicans go on the record about whether they support Johnson.

Many right-wing lawmakers are upset with the speaker for relying on Democratic votes to pursue an agenda they see as a betrayal of their conservative outlook on issues from Ukraine aid to government funding.

But rank-and-file lawmakers in both parties were wary of repeating the chaos of McCarthy's removal, which left the House paralyzed for three weeks as they struggled to find a replacement.

And with the presidential and congressional elections less than six months away, Republicans see threatening Johnson's gavel as divisive and damaging to their prospects of unified control in Washington.

Trump praised Greene in an effusive statement released on his Truth Social platform after the vote.

"I absolutely love Marjorie Taylor Greene. She's got Spirit, she's got Fight, and I believe she'll be around, and on our side, for a long time to come," he said.

But he added that Republicans were "not in a position" to oust Johnson.

"At some point, we may very well be, but this is not the time," he said.

After the vote Johnson said: "I want to say that I appreciate the show of confidence from my colleagues to defeat this misguided effort, that is certainly what it was."


AFP


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