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Greene says she’ll trigger motion to vacate next week

Georgia Republican has just two co-sponsors for her resolution, but wants to put lawmakers on record

Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky., hold a press conference Wednesday on their push to oust Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La.
Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky., hold a press conference Wednesday on their push to oust Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said Wednesday she’ll call for a vote to oust Speaker Mike Johnson the week of May 6, escalating her long-running feud with the speaker over his bipartisan deal-making and decision to put a Ukraine aid package on the House floor.

Greene’s move has been expected for weeks since the Georgia Republican in March first introduced her resolution to declare the office of the speaker vacant, but she’s been struggling to round up backing from fellow GOP lawmakers.

As of Wednesday, just two other Republicans had gotten on board, at least publicly — Reps. Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Paul Gosar of Arizona. And former President Donald Trump has distanced himself from the push by his ally Greene, appearing supportive of Johnson, R-La., including in a joint appearance at Mar-a-Lago.

Still, Greene invoked Trump in her comments Wednesday, arguing that Johnson’s decisions aren’t serving his party and its putative leader, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

Voters “are ready for a Republican majority that’s ready to support President Trump and his agenda,” Greene said at a news conference outside the Capitol, flanked by Massie. “And I’m happy to deliver that vote for everyone next week.”

Another reason for some trepidation on Greene’s push is that Republicans’ margin on party-line votes will temporarily dwindle to one vote once Democrat Tim Kennedy, who won a special election Tuesday night, is sworn in to replace former Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y.

That means if a vote to elect a new speaker is held in the event of Johnson’s ouster, key absences could potentially tip the vote to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. — a concern voiced by none other than Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who triggered the motion that removed former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., last fall.

But Jeffries and his caucus rendered all that moot on Tuesday when they officially decided to bail out Johnson by saying they would vote to table Greene’s resolution when it’s offered. Solid Democratic support would offset any GOP votes against tabling, ensuring that Johnson would keep his gavel for now.

Greene and Massie used their news conference to wage a full-throated attack on a speaker they said has betrayed conservative values and his own Republican majority.

“Once he became speaker, he has become a man that none of us recognize,” Greene said, citing Johnson’s support for three continuing resolutions and a two-part spending omnibus “that fully funded Joe Biden’s agenda,” including a new FBI headquarters.

And she took aim at Johnson’s decision to bring a Ukraine aid package to the floor, saying the speaker was supporting “forever wars” and trying to “Make Ukraine Great Again” instead of the United States.

If her motion does not win support, she said, “that is not a failure. It’s a win for the American people because that’s a list of names. … I believe in recorded votes. That is our job.”

Greene also portrayed Johnson as a captive to Democrats, saying top Democratic leaders are “embracing Mike Johnson with a warm hug and a big, wet sloppy kiss … They are ready to support him as speaker … Why? Because Mike Johnson has given them everything they want.”

In a statement Wednesday, Johnson called Greene’s decision “wrong for the Republican Conference, wrong for the institution, and wrong for the country.”

In an interview set to air Wednesday on NewsNation, Johnson also disparaged Greene when asked if he considered her “a serious lawmaker.” He said, “I don’t think she’s proving to be, no.”

Greene dismissed that criticism Wednesday, saying, “I’m not into personal attacks. That’s not why I’m doing this. This has nothing to do with Mike Johnson as a person. This is about job performance.”

Massie and Greene said delaying a vote until next week, instead of pulling the trigger Wednesday, would give Republicans more time to consider their decision. They also reiterated their call for Johnson to resign to spare a showdown on the floor.

“I think this is a somber decision for Mike Johnson,” Massie said. “He deserves a weekend to think about it. He should resign because he knows what’s coming next week. What’s coming is his sharing of power with Hakeem Jeffries.”

Peter Cohn contributed to this report.

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