Watch CBS News

Rep. Tom Cole says "the reservoir of goodwill is enormous" for House Speaker amid effort to oust him

Cole: "Reservoir of goodwill is enormous" for Johnson
Rep. Tom Cole says "the reservoir of goodwill is enormous" for Speaker amid ouster effort 06:34

Washington — Rep. Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican who leads the House Appropriations Committee, said Sunday that despite a growing threat to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson, he's "much stronger than people seem to think," noting that "the reservoir of goodwill is enormous."

"I actually think he's, you know, empowered the center and marginalized the extremes on each side," Cole said on "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "Now, is there some risk for that? Sure. But the point is, he's gotten a lot done. I think people admire him. They genuinely like him."

The Louisiana Republican has faced pushback in recent weeks for his handling of the government funding process, prompting Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, to file a motion to vacate, threatening to bring up a vote for his ouster. That frustration was bolstered by his shepherding of a foreign aid package that the House approved on Saturday, which some conservatives also opposed. And though Greene has yet to commit to a timeline for bringing up a vote on Johnson's removal, she's gained some backers in recent days. 

The effort to oust Johnson now has three public Republican supporters: Greene, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Paul Gosar of Arizona, who announced his support for the effort on Friday. Republicans have a razor-thin majority at the moment, so Johnson can only afford to lose one vote unless they get support from Democrats. 

Rep. Tom Cole on "Face the Nation," April 21, 2024. CBS News

But Cole made clear that "it's a relatively small number" of Republicans who would support a motion to oust Johnson, saying he doesn't anticipate that "we'd lose the same number of Republicans that we lost with Kevin McCarthy," who was last year the first speaker to be removed from his post in October under similar circumstances. 

"There's a lot of people that like the speaker, that respect the speaker, even when they disagree with him," Cole said. "They know he's honest, he's a straight shooter. They also had a taste of what it's like to go without a speaker for three weeks. I don't think they want that again."

Joining the eight Republicans who voted to boot McCarthy from the post was every Democrat. And the same might not be true for Johnson. Cole said he doesn't believe there's unified Democratic support to remove Johnson, saying that it's unlikely for Democrats who supported the foreign aid package, particularly its aid for Ukraine, to vote to oust the speaker. 

"I think both sides have now seen how dangerous this is, how irresponsible it is," Cole said. "But if somebody wants to do it, it's within the rules and they can take their shot."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.