Mike Johnson
House Speaker Mike Johnson is facing a potential ouster after passing a government spending measure with Democratic support. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Marjorie Taylor Greene Gave Mike Johnson a Two-Week Chaos Notice

The speaker got the House to fund the government. Greene called it a betrayal.

House Speaker Mike Johnson is going home after ushering through a bill that funds the government through the rest of the year. But come April, after Congress’ two-week recess, he could very well be out of his job for it.

Some House Republicans are done with Johnson, outraged by the $1.2 trillion funding bill he negotiated with Senate Democrats and the White House to avoid a partial government shutdown this week.

“Speaker Johnson has betrayed our conference and broken our rules,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene told reporters on Friday. Greene filed a motion to vacate the speaker just minutes before the House voted to pass the spending bill.

“I do not wish to inflict pain on our conference and to throw the House in chaos,” Greene said. “But this is basically a warning, and it’s time for us to go through the process, take our time and find a new speaker of the House that will stand with Republicans and our Republican majority.”

While Greene did not request to privilege the motion on Friday — a procedure that would force a vote on the House floor within two legislative days — her threat looms large over Johnson’s speakership. She gave no time frame for an actual vote but said “the clock has started” to oust Johnson.

Greene also gave no number for how many of her fellow Republicans support the effort — though Rep. Andy Ogles vaguely threatened that the spending “bill will determine who the next speaker is” earlier Friday morning. Greene did not suggest who should take the gavel next.

Rep. Kat Cammack, a Florida Republican, told NOTUS it “doesn’t look like there’s much momentum” around Greene’s efforts. But this conference is unpredictable.

Republicans have already removed one speaker this Congress — Kevin McCarthy, who was ousted last fall — and the conference rejected several of its top leaders when they sought to replace him. Johnson has held the gavel since late October. With a two-vote majority, only a few Republicans would have to vote to remove him if Democrats decided to vote with them, as they did with McCarthy. That’s far from assured: Some Democratic members may want to avoid more chaos on the House floor and could help Johnson’s odds by simply skipping such a vote.

Rep. Shontel Brown, an Ohio Democrat, said she will “continue to yield to and follow the leadership on that.” Some House Democrats have said they would help Johnson overcome a motion to vacate if he brings additional aid to Ukraine to the House floor.

Johnson’s functional House majority has relied largely on Democrats. He has repeatedly avoided government shutdowns with their support, brought forward a tax policy bill his conference wouldn’t have been able to pass on its own and suggested he may allow consideration of an Israel and Ukraine aid package that could advance with Democratic votes after the April recess. The spending bill, which included few conservative priorities, passed Friday morning with mostly Democratic votes. Johnson didn’t even secure a majority of his own conference’s backing when it came to the floor — 112 Republicans opposed passage.

“This is a betrayal of Republican voters,” Greene complained. “This bill was basically a dream and a wish list for Democrats.”

Raj Shah, a spokesperson for Johnson, said the speaker was “focused on governing.”

“Speaker Johnson always listens to the concerns of members but is focused on governing. He will continue to push conservative legislation that secures our border, strengthens our national defense and demonstrates how we’ll grow our majority,” Shah said.

Rep. Tim Burchett, who also voted to remove McCarthy, said support for Johnson is “softening up” among House Republicans. “I want the best leader we can have,” he said, not committing to any one course.

But Burchett told NOTUS earlier this week that a motion to vacate in this closely divided House would throw the speakership to Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries. “There’d be a couple that would defect or wouldn’t show up,” Burchett predicted of his GOP colleagues. “Life happens.”

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Some far-right Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy said they didn’t support Greene’s move. “I’m not going to question her decision; I’m just not ready to support a motion to vacate,” Rep. Matt Gaetz told Politico’s Olivia Beavers.

The stress and uncertainty that followed McCarthy’s ousting remain fresh in the minds of many House Republicans. And with Colorado Rep. Ken Buck’s departure this week, Republicans barely hold the majority.

“This is going to stall everything,” Rep. Lisa McClain, a Michigan Republican, told NOTUS. “I think it’s crazy.”

Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, a Florida Republican, also cast doubt on the effort. “Oh, no, no, no. Johnson is here to stay for a while,” she told NOTUS.

Haley Byrd Wilt is a reporter at NOTUS. Ben T.N. Mause and Tinashe Chingarande are NOTUS reporters and Allbritton Journalism Institute fellows. NOTUS reporter Oriana González contributed reporting.