GOP Hardliners to Force Vote on Removing Speaker Johnson

(Bloomberg) -- Two Republican hardliners announced Wednesday they will force a vote on ousting House Speaker Mike Johnson, a battle they are virtually certain to lose while inflaming ideological animosity in a bitterly divided party.

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House Democratic leaders promised a day earlier to join Johnson’s Republican allies in a parliamentary maneuver to block the effort to remove the speaker, providing him with sufficient numbers to quash the revolt.

But the speaker’s reliance on Democrats’ support leaves Johnson in a precarious position. The Democratic leaders haven’t committed to continuing their help, and they can withdraw support any time the Republican leader angers the opposition party.

Ultra-conservative Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Thomas Massie of Kentucky announced at a press conference outside the Capitol building that next week they will trigger an ouster process that requires a vote within two legislative days.

They attacked Johnson’s work with Democrats on funding measures to keep open the US government and on a $95 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. The aid package passed the House on a 311 to 112 bipartisan vote in April.

Greene said Johnson “caved to the Democrats” and “became a man none of us recognize.” Massie called the actions “betrayals.”

Johnson said in a statement following the press conference that the lawmakers’ ouster attempt is “wrong for the Republican conference, wrong for the institution, and wrong for the country.”

Democratic leaders cited Johnson’s support for the Ukraine aid package as their reason for crossing party lines to back him.

It isn’t clear how much additional support the rebellion has among Republicans but conservative enthusiasm for ousting Johnson already was waning before Democrats announced they would back the speaker.

Republican Paul Gosar of Arizona has said he wants to remove Johnson and remains a co-sponsor of Greene’s ouster resolution. Still, a person familiar with his thinking said the congressman is uncomfortable moving forward with the revolt next week and would prefer to wait. Gosar didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Because of recent departures from the House — leaving Republicans with a razor-thin majority — just three Republicans could have ousted Johnson unless he had support from Democrats.

Greene and Massie declined to say how much support they have lined up for their ouster effort. Greene said they waited to trigger the vote until next week because “everybody needs the weekend to prepare.”

Greene said she would deploy the same procedural maneuver that a handful of dissident Republicans used last October to overthrow then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

(Updates with detail on Gosar support for ouster in 10th paragraph.)

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