Fri. May 24th, 2024

Facing a vote to oust him, House Speaker Mike Johnson could look to history

By 37ci3 May4,2024


WASHINGTON — Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., faces a threat few of his Republican predecessors can relate to: Members of his own party have vowed to oust him.

Johnson’s predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., became the first speaker to vote out of office last October, and John Boehner, R-Ohio, bowed to threats. potential expulsion In 2015, more than 100 years ago, it was a Republican speaker who first faced an internal rebellion against his leadership.

Joseph Cannon, “Uncle Joe,” ruled the House from 1903 to 1911 and is now the name of one of the Capitol’s office buildings. During his tenure, he clashed with the growing progressive movement within the Republican party from Illinois; tension that escalated into a floor fight over the future of the speaker’s role.

Rep. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said she would force a vote next week On Johnson’s impeachment, here’s a look at how Cannon took on his own Republican rebels in 1910, calling for a vote to oust him.

Full control of the ‘Tsar’ Cannon

Although the US Constitution specifically names the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives, he is only states The House will “elect its speaker”. This is so. As a result, job responsibilities evolved and changed over time depending on who wielded the gavel.

By the time Cannon came to power, he had gone from speakership to a powerful party leader. The Speaker named all the committee chairs and himself chaired the Rules Committee, which directed the flow of legislation to the House floor.

Joseph G. Cannon posed with a cigar.
Joseph Cannon was called “Czar Cannon”.Harris and Ewing Collection / Library of Congress

Cannon’s control was so popular that it was called that “Tsar” ball. In 1964, he wrote “Mr. Speaker: The Four Men Who Shaped the United States House of Representatives,” biographer Booth Mooney tells of a constituent who asked his representative for a copy of the House rules and received a photo of Cannon in return.

Although Cannon was highly popular among his peers, he clashed with Republican progressives. These members “introduced stupid or unconstitutional bills simply to cater to the demagogic or ignorant element, not with the slightest hope of becoming law,” Cannon said in “Uncle Joe Cannon: The Story of Pioneer America,” his written by L. White Busbey, secretary. This friction reached its peak in March 1910.

Rebellion of 1910

It all started with the census bill. On St. Patrick’s Day in 1910, Rep. Rep. Edgar Crumpacker, R-Ind., appeared on the House floor to say it was a “privilege decision” on the census. Matters deemed privileged take precedence over other legislative matters. But the debate over the census decision, one of the leading progressive Republicans, R-Neb. Rap George Norris was soon overshadowed when he performed.

“Mr. Speaker, I introduce a resolution privileged by the Constitution,” said the Nebraskan he said.

When Cannon motioned to introduce it, Norris read his proposal to reorganize the Rules Committee by expanding its membership and removing the speaker. This would be a major blow to Cannon’s power.

Republican John Dalzell of Pennsylvania immediately said Norris’s resolution was not privileged. Cannon chose not to decide the question immediately, so days of intense debate ensued. The galleries in the room filled with spectators and reporters filled every space available to them. newspaper accounts.

“Speaker Cannon is fighting the fight of his life,” he said The Washington Times On the evening of March 18, discussions continued in the hall. “If he loses that, he’s going to fall and go out.”

Members of Congress at the Capitol
The Congress that kept you up all night. This is the only photo of the House of Representatives taken during the debate.Library of Congress

For those unable to see the trial in person, newspapers across the country followed the events closely, with headlines such as “The Changing Tyrant,” “War with Uncle Joe,” and “Speaker Ball Doomed.” Even President William Howard Taft was riveted by press accounts of the battle “United Press” reported on thishe said he “voraciously devoured the details of the battle against Cannon.”

Ultimately, Cannon had to decide whether Norris’ decision to change the Rules Committee met the criteria for being “privileged.” After two days of intense discussions on March 19, Cannon said he had not. Objecting to the authority of the House of Representatives, he voted to overrule it and after further debate referred the amendment to the Rules Committee.

“Canonism was dead, as dead as doornails,” said the preacher in Busbey’s book. But Cannon wasn’t done yet.

Cannon calls his opponent’s bluff

When Norris moved to adjourn, Cannon asked for a minute to speak. The the speaker spoke in the chambersaid he had two options: resign or declare a vacancy in the speakership and let this new coalition majority of progressive Republicans and Democrats choose his replacement.

Cannon said resignation was off the table because it would be “an admission of weakness or error or an apology for his past actions,” adding that he did not know he had “made any political mistakes.” The Republican side of the House roared with applause.

Then Cannon tested the republican rebels. He welcomed the vote to remove him from office. A Democrat followed suit and called for such a vote.

When given the chance to eliminate Cannon, the progressive rebels refused. Only nine voted to remove him from office, so the vote failed 155-192, with eight members “present” and 33 abstentions.

“They took away his scepter, the ball remained on the throne” is like this Sunday Star In Washington, DC, he concluded.

Cannon later said in Busbey’s book that on that day, “To the joy of my enemies, the Oratory was taken from me and then restored to me.”

After the 1910 midterm elections, control of the chamber passed to the Democrats, while Cannon remained speaker for the rest of the session. He chose not to serve as minority leader, but remains in Congress to this day 1923When he retired two months before his 87th birthday.



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