Changing ‘motion to vacate’ rule not a top priority for Mike Johnson

Oct 30, 2023 | Political News

Newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson said he is open to changing the rules on vacating the Speakership after the historic ousting of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy last month. While it's not his top priority, Johnson said the “motion to vacate rule” makes it hard for any Speaker to effectively do their job, The Hill reports.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy became the first House Speaker in US history to be ousted from the job after Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz brought a “motion to vacate” on the House floor on Sept. 30. All House Democrats and 8 Republicans voted to vacate, which removed McCarthy, who some argue is the GOP's most effective fundraiser, from the position.

“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. “And I think that's a big part of it. But the rule makes it difficult for any Speaker to do their job.”

Johnson, who became the 56th Speaker of the House last week, said he wants to use his leadership to empower House committees and take power away from the Speaker's office. Despite the vast majority of House Republicans voting against the removal of Rep. McCarthy, and now wanting to see the rules changed, Johnson said he's open to the change but it's not his top priority.

“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,” Johnson explained.

“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.”