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Newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said Sunday he “isn’t afraid” of changing the rule on vacating the Speakership, a move that gained support from several GOP lawmakers following the historic ousting of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) earlier this month.
McCarthy was removed from the top spot in a 216-210 vote on what’s known as a “motion to vacate,” making him the first Speaker ever to be ousted by the House. All House Democrats and eight Republicans voted to remove the Speaker’s gavel from the California Republican.
“Everyone’s here in good faith … and everyone has told me that that rule has to change. Look, I’m not afraid of it because I’m going to openly work transparently and work with every member and everyone will be … will fully understand what we’re doing and why,” Johnson said Sunday on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures.” “And I think that’s a big part of it. But the rule makes it difficult for any Speaker to do their job.”
As part of the dramatic, 15-ballot election that handed McCarthy the gavel in January, the former Speaker agreed to lower the threshold to force a vote on a motion to vacate from five to one — which allowed Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) to single-handedly call for the vote earlier this month.
Republicans furious at the mutiny want to make sure that can’t happen again.
Noting changing the rule isn’t his “top priority,” Johnson said, “My highest priority is to get this work done and to do it an open and transparent way [to], as I said in my speech, the night when I took the oath, to decentralize the power from the Speaker’s office.”
“I really want to empower our chairman and the committees of jurisdiction, and all the talented people in the House and make them more of a part of the big decisions and the situations and the processes here and ensure regular order,” Johnson said. “If we do that, we don’t have to worry about a motion to vacate, and I’m doing that, working on that every day.”
Johnson was elected the 56th House Speaker last Wednesday, putting an end to the more than three weeks of turmoil and GOP infighting in the lower chamber.
Johnson, the 51-year-old GOP lawmaker who was serving his second term as vice chair of the House Republican Conference, won the Speaker’s gavel in a 220-209 party-line vote over Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.)