U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.) leaves after speaking at the Emancipation Hall of the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. on March 21, 2024.

(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

House GOP 'Imploding' as Gallagher Resigns and Greene Moves to Oust Speaker

"House Republicans had a bad day," said one reporter, listing challenges and changes to leadership as a government shutdown looms.

The U.S. House of Representatives started a two-week recess on Friday, but not before a series of events that provoked fresh declarations of what has become a familiar phrase over the past few years: "Republicans in disarray."

Before leaving Capitol Hill, House members passed a spending package intended to prevent a partial government shutdown that could still occur unless the Senate acts. Fewer than two dozen Democrats and over 100 Republicans opposed the bill. Democratic opposition was largely related to Israel's war on the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, far-right Republicans like Texas Congressman Chip Roy have made comments like, "Everyone that I know and trust about the border, about overall spending, see it as a complete and total failure and a capitulation by Republicans. And leadership worked the deal, so it's on leadership."

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) not only opposed the package but also filed a motion to vacate, hoping to remove House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.)—which would only require a simple majority if it came up for a vote.

House Republicans elected Johnson to the leadership role in late October, after ousting former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)—who then opted to leave office at the end of last year—and rejecting three other candidates for the post: Reps. Tom Emmer (D-Minn.), Steve Scalise (R-La.), and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

Noting that Greene filed a regular motion rather than a privileged one, meaning it could be referred to a committee, "where it would likely languish," NBC Newsreported Friday:

Greene told reporters that her motion to vacate was "more of a warning than a pink slip," saying she does not want to "throw the House into chaos," like the three and a half weeks that the chamber was without a speaker when McCarthy, her close ally, was ousted.

"I'm not saying that it won't happen in two weeks or it won't happen in a month or who knows when. But I am saying the clock has started. It's time for our conference to choose a new speaker," she said.

Johnson's October election led Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)—who filed the motion to vacate targeting McCarthy—to declare that "MAGA is ascendant," a reference to the "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan of former President Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee for the November election.

While Gaetz voted against the spending package on Friday, he also said that "if we vacated this speaker we'd end up with a Democrat. You know, when I vacated the last one, I made a promise to the country that we would not end up with a Democrat speaker and I was right. I couldn't make that promise again today."

Asked if he thinks Johnson's job is safe, Gaetz responded, "It is."

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) also responded dismissively when questioned about Greene's motion on Friday, tellingPunchbowl News, "She's a joke."

A spokesperson for Johnson, Raj Shah, toldPolitico that the speaker "always listens to the concerns of members, but is focused on governing. He will continue to push conservative legislation that secures our border, strengthens our national defense, and demonstrates how we'll grow our majority."

However, Johnson's limited control over the House is dwindling. Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), who backed the spending bill, revealed that he is resigning from his seat effective April 19 after previously saying that he would not seek reelection. Friday was also the last day of Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), who announced earlier this month that he would step down from his seat.

The Washington Post noted Friday that "Buck and Gallagher are the sixth and seventh members of the House who are quitting midterm simply to leave for the private sector, a trend we dubbed 'the Great Resignation' last weekend. It's also the highest number of lawmakers quitting public service altogether in at least 40 years."

Responding to Gallager's announcement on social media, HuffPost's Jennifer Bendery said that "House Republicans are imploding in plain sight."

In yet another disruption to the chamber's GOP leadership, Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas)—who announced last year that she wouldn't seek reelection—wrote in a Friday letter to Johnson that she plans to step down as chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

Granger told the speaker she would stay in the post until the Republican Steering Committee chooses her replacement and then remain on the panel through the end of her term to offer "advice and counsel for my colleagues when it is needed."

The Texas Tribunepointed out that "the Appropriations Committee will need to pass another set of federal funding bills before the end of September to keep the government funded. Congress has failed to meet that deadline for nearly 30 years, and Granger acknowledged in her letter that election years in particular often distract Congress from passing spending bills on time."

GOP members of the upper chamber were also accused of sowing chaos on Friday, as the midnight shutdown deadline loomed.

Senate Budget Committee Chair Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said on social media, "Well, it looks like we're headed for a shutdown at the hands of Senate Republican gremlins who (1) know that amendments can't pass because there's no House to send an amended bill back to (they adjourned) and (2) want amendments anyway."

"And (3) can't decide amongst themselves what won't-pass amendments they want," Whitehouse added. "I sure hope I'm wrong. But the Republican Senate caucus is a rudderless ship right now, so the gremlins are running the show."

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