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Marjorie Taylor Greene Files Surprise Motion to Oust Speaker Mike Johnson

3 minute read

Five months after being elected as House Speaker, Mike Johnson may have to fight to keep his position after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene initiated a motion to oust him over his support of a bipartisan spending deal.

“We need a new Speaker,” Greene told reporters outside the Capitol on Friday after the House passed a $1.2 trillion government funding deal with mostly Democratic votes. "I filed the motion to vacate today, but it's more of a warning and a pink slip.”

Greene's challenge signals a deepening divide within the Republican party as Johnson grapples with navigating competing interests and maintaining party unity in the face of critical legislative negotiations. The spending deal that Johnson endorsed has further exacerbated tensions within Republican ranks, as some members of his far-right flank have argued that the bill does not do enough to address border security. The emerging dynamic is reminiscent of the tumultuous ousting of Johnson’s predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, from the same position under similar circumstances last year.

“I do not wish to inflict pain on our conference and to throw the House into chaos,” Greene of Georgia told reporters.

The fate of Greene's motion remains uncertain as House rules require a majority vote to remove the Speaker. McCarthy’s ouster in October 2023 saw eight Republicans joining forces with all Democrats to remove him from the speakership, but it’s unclear if Greene’s motion will be able to garner similar support. There’s also no timeline yet for when a potential vote might take place; since Greene did not file her resolution as privileged, Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana, would be able to postpone any vote on it until after the House’s two-week recess.

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

Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican who led the vote to oust McCarthy as Speaker, told reporters on Friday that he does not support a motion aimed at removing Johnson from his position. “If we vacated this speaker, we’d end up with a Democrat,” Gaetz said, adding that he believes some Republicans would vote for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. “When I vacated the last one, I made a promise to the country that we would not end up with the Democrat speaker. And I was right. I couldn’t make that promise again.”

Rep. Tim Burchett, a Tennessee Republican and one of the eight who voted to oust McCarthy, said Friday that he also would not support a motion to remove Johnson. “No, he’s not lied to me,” he said.

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Write to Nik Popli at nik.popli@time.com