At a time when Republicans want voters to give them more power, by putting them in control of the Senate and White House with ballots in November, let’s take a look at the job they’ve done running the House. The 118th Congress, first under Speaker Kevin McCarthy and now Mike Johnson, has truly been a do-nothing Congress, responsible for an anemic 47 laws; the original “do-nothing Congress,” which Harry Truman ran against in the 1940s, actually passed 906 bills. And several of the bills passed by the current GOP majority have simply been meant to keep the government open, with Johnson and company again bringing the country to the brink of a shutdown before Congress passed a $1.2 trillion spending bill a little after 2 a.m. on Saturday.

Johnson, of course, is in way over his head, having vaulted from backbencher to the most senior official in the House after three Republicans with more leadership experience failed to get the votes. What pushed Johnson over the top was not his talent for legislating nor his dexterity with vote counting, but instead the work he did with Donald Trump’s election-denial scheme. Johnson promoted the fringe “independent state legislature” theory that even the Trumpified Supreme Court shot down. This is the person Republicans chose, unanimously, for the Speaker job, which is a really hard gig, even if Nancy Pelosi made it look easy.

The ascension of Johnson came in the weeks after McCarthy was ousted by the “Gaetz eight” for passing a debt-limit deal and helping prevent the economy from crashing (though it may have also been payback from Matt Gaetz for a congressional ethics investigation). And now Johnson finds himself potentially on the chopping block for keeping the government funded. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a charter member of the burn-it-all-down GOP caucus, filed a motion to remove Johnson after the spending package passed.

“I filed a motion to vacate today, but it’s more of a warning and a pink slip,” Greene told reporters Friday. It was a statement that, in typical MTG fashion, made little sense; something that is a pink slip is very much not a warning but a firing. Greene, a former McCarthy ally who opposed his removal, added that she did “not wish to inflict pain on our conference and to throw the House into chaos.”

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Good luck! Greene’s motion to vacate was a topic of conversation on the Sunday shows, with CNN’s Jake Tapper asking Chip Roy if he’d support it. Roy “suggested that Johnson should not put a bill that would approve funding for Ukraine on the House floor when answering the question,” The Hill noted.

Congress is on vacation for two weeks, so maybe Greene will forget about it. But the mood was grim as members of the House and Senate left Washington, with Punchbowl summing it up in Monday’s newsletter headline: “Everyone’s mad at each other.” As John Bresnahan wrote, “The 118th Congress is the least productive in decades. And everyone left town mad as they do the bare minimum legislatively with the November election looming.”

The bad news about Johnson is that he’s a Trumpist—ergo, he doesn’t really believe in democratic norms and cares more about his religion than your rights. But the good news about Johnson is that he’s truly terrible at being Speaker and his majority keeps shrinking. This is yet another case of American democracy being saved by Trumpists’ incompetence rather than institutional guardrails.

House Republicans, who held a five-seat majority six months ago, will soon only have one vote to spare. Mike Gallagher recently announced he’ll be leaving early, an exit that will follow those of McCarthy, George Santos (though not by choice), and Ken Buck, who voiced his disgust on the way out.

“It is the worst year of the nine years and three months that I’ve been in Congress, and having talked to former members, it’s the worst year in 40, 50 years to be in Congress,” said Buck, who criticized his own party, which has been trying to impeach Joe Biden despite not having any evidence of wrongdoing. “We’ve taken impeachment, and we’ve made it a social media issue as opposed to a constitutional concept—this place keeps going downhill, and I don’t need to spend more time here.”

House committee chairs Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Mark Green announced last month that they will not seek reelection, while Kay Granger, who also won’t be running for reelection, plans to give up early her perch as House Appropriations Committee chair. Members of Congress with powerful committee assignments tend not to leave those posts. McCarthy, for all his faults, was able to keep his caucus together. Not so with Johnson.

Johnson has committed a breathtaking number of unforced errors along the way. He decided not to whip the vote against removing fraudster and inadvertent comic genius George Santos, and though all of the House GOP leadership voted against removing him, Santos ultimately didn’t have the numbers to stay. This made leadership look incompetent. Perhaps this was a case in which good old-fashioned math would have been more helpful than prayers? Johnson later said it was a “regrettable day,” and with that, he completely ceded the moral high ground after expelling a member.


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