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Marjorie Taylor Greene files motion to oust Mike Johnson as House passes $1.2trn spending package

Marjorie Taylor Greene initiated the process to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson as the US House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill to avoid a government shutdown despite the objections of conservatives like the Georgia Republican who support former president Donald Trump.

Ms Greene filed a motion to vacate the speaker as the House was still voting on the spending agreement.

A two-thirds majority was reached to pass the spending package – 286 voted in favour and 134 voted against.

“This is a betrayal of Republican voters,” Ms Greene told reporters on Friday. “The bill ... forced Republicans to choose between funding to pay our soldiers and in doing so, funding late-term abortion – this bill was basically a dream and a wish list for Democrats and for the White House.”

The Senate voted to 74-24 early Saturday morning, allowing the government to stay open and sending the bill to President Joe Biden, who said he would sign the legislation immediately once it reaches his desk. The bill will keep the government open until the end of Fiscal Year 2024 on 30 September.

Ms Greene said the process “was completely led by [Democratic Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer, not our Republican Speaker of the House, not our conference, and we weren't even allowed to put amendments to the floor to have a chance to make changes to the bill”.

Unlike Representative Matt Gaetz’s motion to vacate last year that ousted Kevin McCarthy as speaker, Ms Greene’s will not trigger a vote within two legislative days. Rather, Ms Greene said she wanted to put Mr Johnson on notice rather than oust him.

“I filed the motion to vacate today, but it's more of a warning than a pink slip,” she added. “It’s time for us to go through the process, take our time and find a new speaker of the House that will stand with Republicans and our Republican majority instead of standing with the Democrats.”

Republicans in the House told The Independent they had little appetite to join in a motion to vacate after last year’s ouster of Mr McCarthy left the House without a speaker for 22 days. Republican Arizona Representative Juan Ciscomani told The Independent that the filing of the motion to vacate was “very unfortunate”.

He added that he “didn’t support” the motion to vacate former Mr McCarthy last autumn. “This is a bad idea again.”

Mr Johnson argued in a statement that “House Republicans achieved conservative policy wins, rejected extreme Democrat proposals, and imposed substantial cuts while significantly strengthening national defense”.

“The process was also an important step in breaking the omnibus muscle memory and represents the best achievable outcome in a divided government,” he added.

As the House voted on Friday, Texas Democratic Representative Jasmine Crockett told The Independent that it was “about damn time” that the funding agreement was passed.

Asked about the months of struggles to fund the government, Republican Wisconsin Representative Mike Gallagher said, “Divided government is hard, and we still got a lot of work left to do. So we'll see what happens”.

He added that he wasn’t concerned about the motion to vacate the speaker. Hours later, Mr Gallagher announced that he would resign from Congress, reducing the Republican majority down to one vote.

New York Republican Representative Mike Lawler told reporters that “the American people agree with us on the issues. What they don’t agree with is the idiocy and the chaos that is totally unnecessary and does nothing to actually solve the problem”.

“The people that are so upset about this bill today should have thought ... long and hard before they removed Kevin McCarthy as speaker,” he added.

“I’ve won twice in two-to-one Democratic districts because I’ve taken a common sense bipartisan approach, and that’s what I’ll continue to do. I call it as I see it ... and this stunt by Marjorie is idiotic,” he told The Independent.

Michigan Republican Rep Lisa McClain said it was “about time” that the spending agreement was passed, adding that she was concerned about the motion to vacate the speaker.

“To what end? We’ve got to move forward ... I don't know what this accomplishes,” she said.

Maryland Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin told the press that “their party lives on insurrection and division and polarisation and so it doesn't surprise me that they're again cannibalizing themselves”.

“This is the Donald Trump playbook that has overtaken the Republican Party and for people interested in democracy, freedom and effective governance, the Democratic Party has a plan,” he told The Independent.

The spending bill is part of an agreement by House and Senate leadership as well as the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Earlier this month, Congress passed six spending bills and a stopgap spending bill to allow for negotiations to continue for some of the more contentious pieces of legislation.

Conservatives objected to the fact that the legislation did not make steep enough spending cuts and the House Freedom Caucus had called for Mr Johnson to put in place more measures to restrict immigration at the US-Mexico border.

Conversely, progressives objected to cuts in funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York called “unconscionable”.

At the same time, the legislation also includes 12,000 special immigrant visas for Afghans who assisted US servicemembers during the war in Afghanistan.

The so-called minibus spending bill contains the remaining six spending bills to fund the State Department; the Pentagon; the Department of Homeland Security; Congress; the Department of Health and Human Services; the Department of Education; financial services and the general government.

Republicans pushed to include amendments on immigration. Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas accused Mr Schumer of trying to shield vulnerable Democrats from taking tough votes.

In response, when Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana up for re-election, saw Mr Cotton, he told reporters “did Cotton say they're holding amendments because of John tester because if he did, he might be full of something that comes off the back of a cow.”

“It shows how this place is broken,” Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana, told The Independent about how the process being dragged out.

The push for amendments also came as Senator Susan Collins, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, hoped to return to Maine on Saturday for her mother’s funeral. An eventual agreement for amendment votes came in the early hours of Saturday as the White House Office of Management and Budget announced agencies would continue normal operations.

The passage of the spending bill allows for the House and Senate to begin a two-week vacation. But it does not mean the end of work on spending bills. Congress will either need to once again craft 12 spending bills by 30 September or pass another stopgap spending bill before they break again for an October recess.