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Marjorie Taylor Greene says she will force vote next week on ousting House Speaker Mike Johnson

Greene may go forward with Johnson ouster
Marjorie Taylor Greene might go forward with Johnson ouster vote 05:16

Washington — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Wednesday said that next week she'll follow through on her threat to force a vote to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson, adding to the dysfunction that has become increasingly routine for Republicans in the lower chamber. 

"I think every member of Congress needs to take that vote and let the chips fall where they may," Greene said at a news conference Wednesday. "And so next week, I am going to be calling this motion to vacate."

Greene, a Georgia Republican, has dangled the threat of removing Johnson as House speaker since late March after he relied on Democrats to push through a $1.2 trillion spending bill to avert a partial government shutdown. 

She has since publicly and repeatedly denounced the Louisiana Republican's leadership, accusing him of failing to keep his promises; instead, she says, he has negotiated with Democrats and broken procedural rules to pass major legislation — tactics made necessary by Republicans' razor-thin majority and GOP infighting. Johnson's decision to push ahead with more funding for Ukraine to assist the U.S. ally in its war against Russia, which Greene vehemently opposed, was the final straw.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, May 1, 2024.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, May 1, 2024.  J. Scott Applewhite / AP

"I voted for Mike Johnson because his voting record before he became speaker was conservative," Greene said. "But once he became speaker, he has become a man that none of us recognize."

In mid-April, her effort to oust Johnson gained the support of two more conservatives — Reps. Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Paul Gosar of Arizona. Facing a weeklong recess after the House approved a major foreign aid package that included billions for Ukraine, they waited until lawmakers returned to Washington to start the countdown on a vote, hoping that Republicans would hear from angry constituents and support their cause or that Johnson would resign. 

Republicans hold an increasingly narrow majority — something former President Donald Trump recently noted in his tepid defense of Johnson, saying, "It's not like he can go and do whatever he wants to do." The three GOP votes against Johnson mean he will need Democratic votes to save his speakership if everyone is in attendance and voting. 

Citing the passage of the foreign aid package, House Democratic leaders announced Tuesday that they would thwart the effort to remove Johnson. Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, the Democratic caucus chair, said Tuesday that their decision to vote to kill the measure if it comes up for a vote was not about saving Johnson, but they "want to turn the page" and not "let Marjorie Taylor dictate the schedule and the calendar of what's ahead."

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York declined to say Wednesday what Democrats would do if Greene forces repeated votes, saying "we'll take it one step at a time." 

"Marjorie Taylor Greene is the star of the show. The show is called 'Republicans Gone Wild,'" Jeffries said at his weekly news conference. "It is undermining the well-being of the American people and preventing us from delivering real and meaningful results on the issues that matter. House Republicans are either unwilling or unable to get Marjorie Taylor Greene and the extreme MAGA Republicans under control, and so it's going to take a bipartisan coalition and partnership to accomplish that objective." 

Democrats' offer to save Johnson would "doom him," Massie said last month. 

"How's that sustainable?" Massie said. "If a Republican speaker is the speaker only by virtue of Democrats voting for him; that's not a stable condition." 

Johnson said in a statement after Greene's announcement that the motion "is wrong for the Republican Conference, wrong for the institution, and wrong for the country." The speaker previously said he had not asked Democrats to help him. And he has appeared undeterred by the biggest threat to the job he's only held for six months and says he will not step down.  

"I have to do my job. We have to do what we believe to be the right thing. What the country needs right now is a functioning Congress. They need a Congress that works well, works together and does not hamper its own ability to solve these problems," Johnson said Tuesday. "We saw what happened with the motion to vacate the last time. Congress was closed for three weeks. No one can afford for that to happen." 

On Wednesday, Greene criticized that move, suggesting that Johnson is working for Democrats, who she says are embracing Johnson "with a warm hug and a big wet sloppy kiss."

Massie predicts Johnson will lose more votes than former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California, who was booted from the top spot in October after a similar revolt. The historic vote to remove McCarthy threw the House into weeks of paralysis as Republicans failed to unite behind a new speaker. 

McCarthy said on "Face the Nation" in March that Johnson shouldn't be concerned with a move to oust him, saying it likely won't be successful.

"Do not be fearful of a motion to vacate," McCarthy said. "I do not think they could do it again."

So far, no other Republicans have publicly endorsed the push to remove Johnson. 

Rep. Chip Roy, a Texas Republican, said Monday the maneuver to dethrone the speaker "should be deployed sparingly" and the party was better off focusing on the November elections. 

Massie argued Johnson's leadership is "not inspiring anybody to give us the majority if he's going to be sharing the majority with Democrats." 

Republicans, both those supportive of and frustrated by Johnson, also acknowledge he won't be easy to replace. 

"Who's going to want the job and who could do it?" Rep. Troy Nehls, a Texas Republican, said before the foreign aid package cleared the House. "We got deep into the bench when we went through this several months ago." 

When asked who could replace Johnson, Greene said she wouldn't name names. But she said she believed the conference has "people who are capable."

"We're not going to have a House majority if we keep Mike Johnson," she warned. 

Ellis Kim, Laura Garrison, Nikole Killion and Jaala Brown contributed reporting. 

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