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 March 14, 2024

Mike Johnson believes next Congress will 'probably' change the motion to vacate rule

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Wednesday that the next Congress will "probably" go after the very rule used to ouster his predecessor, The Hill reported. Johnson took over after eight GOP lawmakers organized a bipartisan campaign to remove former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. 

The lawmakers were able to replace McCarthy using the motion to vacate. All it takes is a single lawmaker to make the motion, and then Democrats and Republicans can proceed with a vote to change leadership.

Although he has acknowledged that the change is currently under discussion, Johnson has said he is in favor of it. Still, the issue is at the forefront as Republicans are again angered at their leader.

Johnson has brokered several spending deals with Democrats, which has outraged some of the most extreme in the GOP. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has hinted she would consider using it again if Johnson pushes for more funding for Ukraine.

The Policy Shift

While speaking at a news conference in West Virginia at the House Republicans' retreat, Johnson revealed that the motion to vacate rule could be on the chopping block. "The motion to vacate is something that comes up a lot amongst members and discussion," Johnson shared.

"I expect there will probably be a change to that as well. But just so you know, I’ve never advocated for that; I’m not one who’s making it into this issue, because I don’t think it is one for now," Johnson later clarified.

"I just think it’s something that a lot of members on both sides of the aisle talk about openly that they have a desire for [a] more normal process on the House floor again. So we’ll be looking at that on the House rules package in our respective caucus and conference packages as well as going to the new Congress," Johson continued.

"And that’s just something we should do in due course, be good stewards of the institution," he added. Regardless of what Johnson claims about a return to normalcy, Republicans like Texas Rep. Chip Roy don't want to see the rule changed.

"I have never wanted to go down that road. I didn’t want to go down that road with Kevin, I don’t want to go down that road with Mike. But you are correct, it is a tool at our disposal," Roy said.

The Next Congress

The discussion about what the GOP may do in the next Congress could be moot if the balance between Democrats and Republicans shrinks. The Washington Post reported that the GOP majority is shrinking in the House, which puts them in a precarious position going forward.

Republicans are down to 219 seats in the House out of a total of 435. That means if they lose more than two lawmakers or have some absences during votes, they may not get legislation passed.

A special election in New York next month could further threaten their majority. The district, which includes Buffalo, leans heavily toward the Democrats.

This will put additional pressure on Johnson. "The speaker has to be very careful. Republicans have to make sure they all actually show up for votes," Smith College professor Claire Leavitt said.

Changing the Speaker of the House is a serious move that creates instability. It would be smart to rein in that ability, but Republicans may not get the chance unless they do well in the 2024 general election.

Written By:
Christine Favocci

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