POLITICS & ELECTIONS

Speaker Johnson faces threat of ouster vote in pivotal week as he meets with Marjorie Taylor Greene

May 6, 2024, 9:13 PM

House Speaker Mike Johnson, at left, and Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, at righ...

House Speaker Mike Johnson, at left, and Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, at right, are pictured. (Reuters, Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

(Reuters, Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

(CNN) — House Speaker Mike Johnson is expected to confront a vote over his ouster in the coming days, a pivotal moment that presents a major leadership test for the Louisiana Republican even though he is expected to prevail.

House Democratic leaders have said that Democrats will vote to kill the effort led by GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, effectively ensuring Johnson won’t lose his job.

Johnson met with Greene on Monday for around two hours in his office. After the meeting concluded, Greene said they would meet again on Tuesday, but declined to provide details about what was discussed or say if she would still force a vote seeking his ouster this week.

“We just had a very long discussion with the speaker. We are going to be meeting again tomorrow based on the discussion that we’ve had so we really don’t have any news to report at this time,” Greene said.

Johnson told CNN after meeting with Greene, “We had a productive discussion and we talked about some ideas and we’re gonna meet again tomorrow. So I think we’ll be able to get everybody on the same page.”

Moving on from issue

A failed vote would give Johnson an opportunity to argue that it is time to move on from the issue. But support from Democrats will open Johnson up to even more criticism from his right flank.

It’s not yet clear how many Republicans would vote against Johnson – the higher the number, the more of a blow it could prove to be to the speaker’s standing within the House GOP conference.

Greene has said she will force a vote in the coming days, escalating pressure on Johnson and setting up a major showdown on the House floor. Even if the vote fails, as expected, it still threatens to intensify divisions among House Republicans, who control a razor-thin majority.

Former President Donald Trump and Greene have spoken about her motion to vacate within the last week, multiple sources with knowledge of the call told CNN. Trump did not directly tell Greene to drop the motion, but the presumptive Republican presidential nominee discussed party unity and signaled that the motion might be distracting, one source said, noting that he listened to Greene’s reasoning and wasn’t too forceful with her.

Many Republicans oppose the push to oust Johnson and do not want to see the conference devolve into bitter infighting like it did after former Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted in a historic and unprecedented vote last year.

Greene and other hardline conservatives, however, have been highly critical of Johnson’s speakership. Conservative anger at Johnson intensified after he worked to help pass a major foreign aid package with assistance for Ukraine last month.

Johnson says he won’t resign

Johnson has defended his leadership against the threat, saying that he will not resign and warning that a vote to oust him could cause chaos in the House.

“This motion is wrong for the Republican Conference, wrong for the institution, and wrong for the country,” the speaker said in a statement after Greene announced she would move forward with a vote.

Two other Republicans are publicly supporting Greene’s motion to vacate: Massie and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona.

“I believe in recorded votes. That is our job – our job is to vote,” Greene said at a news conference where she announced she would trigger a vote.

“If this vote fails,” the congresswoman said, “that’s a list of names – and the voters and the American people … they deserve that list.”

Greene has been dangling the threat of an ouster vote for weeks. She originally filed the motion to oust Johnson in March amid conservative anger over his handling of the government funding fight.

The congresswoman also has not ruled out the possibility of forcing repeated votes in the future after the coming vote.

“I haven’t made a decision on that yet,” she said at the news conference.

A floor vote to oust Johnson would require a majority to succeed, but a motion to table – or kill – the resolution is expected to be offered and voted on first.

House GOP leaders plan to quickly take up and kill Greene’s motion, according to GOP sources. Depending on attendance, they could vote the same day she offers it.

Johnson met with the conservative House Freedom Caucus Monday night, per a source familiar, as he continues to try to stave off ouster threats. Greene was booted from the caucus in July 2023.

In the wake of Johnson’s push to pass the foreign aid package over the objections of hardline conservatives, House Democratic leadership announced that Democrats would help Johnson keep his job by voting to table if the issue arose.

But House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries would not commit last week to having Democrats save Johnson from multiple attempts to oust him if conservatives trigger repeated votes in the future.

Jeffries said the Democratic caucus “will take it one step at a time.”

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Speaker Johnson faces threat of ouster vote in pivotal week as he meets with Marjorie Taylor Greene