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May 10, 2024

CT delegation votes to block ousting House Speaker Mike Johnson

C-SPAN Connecticut's congressional delegation joined a bipartisan coalition that voted to block an attempt to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson from his leadership role.

Connecticut’s congressional delegation did not support U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., when he was elected speaker of the House.

But almost seven months later, the five Democratic representatives joined majorities in both parties to block the removal of Johnson. If that effort had been successful, it would have again halted all business in the lower chamber of Congress just months away from an election.

For weeks, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., threatened a motion to vacate the speaker, which would have been the second attempt by a member to do so in less than a year. She argued Johnson repeatedly gave Democrats what they wanted over GOP priorities “to preserve his own personal power.”

On Wednesday night, Greene followed through on her threat and made it a privileged motion to force lawmakers to act on it in two days. But within the hour, the House voted, 359-43, to kill Greene’s effort. Only 11 Republicans and 32 Democrats voted to allow the Georgia Republican’s resolution on removal to move forward.

Among those supporting Johnson were the entire Connecticut delegation: John Larson, D-1st District; Joe Courtney, D-2nd District; Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District; Jim Himes, D-4th District; and Jahana Hayes, D-5th District.

With the looming prospect of another motion to vacate, Democrats appeared more willing to help save Johnson’s job after they joined a small group of Republicans in removing then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., last October.

Democratic leadership ultimately decided to support Johnson if a motion to vacate was triggered again, citing his willingness to move forward on a massive foreign aid package that had been stalled for months. Congress passed the bill last month with aid for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and humanitarian efforts in Gaza.

Connecticut lawmakers have cited concerns about Johnson’s record and continue to point out the ideological differences they have with him on abortion rights, LGBTQ+ rights and efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

But they were willing to back Johnson after he followed through on allowing a vote on foreign aid that had been hitting more resistance within the Republican Party, particularly over more aid for Ukraine to counter Russia’s ongoing invasion.

“I agree with Speaker Mike Johnson on almost nothing. However, I have much respect for his decision to collaborate with the Democratic caucus to pass a strong bipartisan funding package and critical aid for our Ukrainian allies,” Himes said in a statement.

“He should not be removed from his position for standing up to the radical extremists of his party and choosing duty over chaos,” he added.

Before the vote in October, Congress last voted on a motion to vacate more than a century ago. No House speaker had previously been removed through such a resolution until McCarthy’s ouster.

For three weeks after McCarthy was pushed out, the House was effectively at an unprecedented standstill. Business and votes in legislation were frozen until lawmakers elected a new speaker.

After Republicans failed to coalesce around a few candidates, they ultimately backed Johnson three weeks later.

Members in both parties said they did not want the House to plunge back into chaos when they have little time left, since Congress is out of session more during an election year.

“Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called up her motion to declare the office of the speaker of the House vacant. I have a long list of things I would like to vote on to improve the lives of my constituents but today, once again, I voted on a motion to table,” Hayes said.

“Being in the majority is a tremendous responsibility that my Republican colleagues just have not seemed to accept,” she added.

Connecticut GOP candidate George Logan, who is seeking a rematch against Hayes in November, has also been opposed to GOP efforts to remove the speaker. Republican supporters of Johnson feared it would be another distraction for the party as they fight to keep their slim majority in the House.

After the vote, Logan tweeted that he was “grateful” the motion was tabled and shared a photo of him with the speaker during Johnson’s visit to Connecticut.

In a sign that Republicans will focus on trying to flip the 5th District, Johnson campaigned and headlined a fundraiser for Logan in March. Logan narrowly lost to Hayes in the 2022 election and is expected to once again become the Republican nominee.

“Efforts to remove Mike Johnson are reckless and irresponsible. These efforts only serve to destroy any chance of delivering the change that Americans so desperately need,” Logan said.

“With a failing economy, a border crisis, and chaos in the international stage, now is the time for real leadership. Now is NOT the time for further chaos and division,” he added. “I am proud to stand with Speaker Mike Johnson.”

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