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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene files motion to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., talks to reporters after meeting privately with House Speaker Mike Johnson at the Capitol earlier this year.
J. Scott Applewhite
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., talks to reporters after meeting privately with House Speaker Mike Johnson at the Capitol earlier this year.

Updated March 22, 2024 at 2:51 PM ET

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., has filed a motion to remove Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., as House speaker.

Greene and other hardline conservatives had expressed anger with Johnson's handling of the six remaining appropriations bills for fiscal year 2024. The package of those bills – totaling $1.2 trillion – passed the House Friday morningwith more Democratic support than Republican support. It now heads to the Senate. Working with Democrats to avoid a shutdown is also what triggered the push to oust then-Speaker Kevin McCarthylast year.

"This is not personal against Mike Johnson. He's a very good man. And I have respect for him as a person. But he is not doing the job. The proof is in the vote count today," Greene told reporters Friday. "The Republican speaker of the House handed over every ounce of negotiating power to Chuck Schumer and the Democrats and went ahead and funded the government when this was our point of leverage."

Greene's motion is not privileged, meaning it's unclear if or when it will be brought to the floor for a vote. Greene told reporters after the vote that she has "started the process" of electing a new speaker, but she will not force a vote imminently.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., who voted against the spending package and was aware of Greene's plans, said the move will give House Republicans time to select a new speaker. The House now heads into a two-week recess, and Greene said legislative business will continue as she works to build support for a replacement.

The push by House Republicans to oust their own elected leader – for the second time in less than six months – highlights the deep fractures within the conference. And it comes as Republicans' razor-thin majority shrinks even further, with Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., resigning Friday, and Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc., announcing Friday afternoon that he is resigning effective April 19.

Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., a moderate, called the attempt "lunacy." He called on Democratic House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, to pledge that his caucus was "not going to participate in a stunt," and vote to protect Johnson.

Under current House rules, it only takes one lawmaker to bring up a vote to oust the speaker. But it takes a majority of the House for that vote to pass. In October 2023, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., filed the motion to vacate McCarthy from the speakership. Democrats voted as a bloc to remove McCarthy, and eight Republicans, opposed to McCarthy's decision to pass a bipartisan short-term spending bill, also voted to remove him.

That move brought all House business to a standstill, and set off a chaotic, intra-party fight as Republicans tried to coalesce around a replacement.Johnson was the fourth nominee, after Reps. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Jim Jordan of Ohio, and Tom Emmer of Minnesota all failed to garner the support necessary to succeed on the floor.

The path forward is unclear

The House is now out for a two week recess, so this threat will hang over Speaker Johnson. Greene vowed Friday to bring the motion up for a vote; it's not clear whether Johnson or other leaders are reaching out to her in an attempt to head that off.

But Johnson has said he planned to work on a foreign aid package with assistance to Ukraine after passing the spending bills. Greene, an ardent opponent of Ukraine aid, suggested that could trigger her bringing her motion to vacate to the floor.

While Johnson's moves have drawn ire from some fiscal conservatives, many in his conference voiced support for the speaker Friday.

"I think Speaker Johnson has been an outstanding speaker, and I stand behind him and I think we'll get through this," said Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina, who chairs the committee that works to elect Republicans in the House.

Some Democrats have signaled they may be open to protecting Johnson this time around. Rep. Jared Moskowitz, wrote on social media, "I do not support Speaker Johnson but I will never stand by and let MTG to take over the people's House."

Rep. Tom Suozzi, who won a special election last month to replace expelled Rep. George Santos, also told CNN he would vote to support Johnson.

"He's getting kicked out for doing the right thing — keeping the government open," said Suozzi, D-N.Y., "The idea that he would be kicked out by these jokers is absurd."

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said he's "not invested in the particular career aspirations of particular Republican colleagues. That's for them to sort out."

"But I will make common cause with anybody who will stand up for the people of Ukraine, anybody who will get desperately needed humanitarian assistance to Gaza, and anybody who will work for a two state solution," he added.

Johnson has not yet brought a Senate-passed foreign aid package that would provide military assistance to Ukraine and Israel and humanitarian assistance to Gaza up for a vote. But a discharge petition for that package, and another discharge petition for a different foreign aid bill, are currently gathering signatures.

NPR congressional reporter Barbara Sprunt contributed to this story.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.
Lexie Schapitl is a production assistant with NPR's Washington Desk, where she produces radio pieces and digital content. She also reports from the field and assists with production of the NPR Politics Podcast.