Conservatives Confront Speaker Mike Johnson in Tense Moment on House Floor

Conservatives Confront Speaker Mike Johnson in Tense Moment on House Floor

Just over six months after former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the speakership by House Democrats and a handful of Republicans, current Speaker Mike Johnson faces a similar threat.

A number of Republicans in the House object to the way in which Johnson is handling foreign aid legislation that would give billions to Israel and Ukraine, among other U.S. allies.

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has already called for Johnson’s removal, filing a motion to vacate the speaker’s chair but not yet pushing for a vote on it.

The House changed its rules this Congress to allow such a motion by any House member, a rule Johnson said on Fox News shortly after taking his role would have to change, according to a partial transcript of that interview from Axios.

“Everyone’s here in good faith … and everyone has told me that that rule has to change,” he told Fox’s Maria Bartiromo on Oct. 29.

Well … maybe not “everyone.”

Thursday afternoon, Axios was out with another report, this time saying that “a group of conservatives pressured Speaker Mike Johnson to back off potential plans to make it harder to remove House speakers.”

According to the report, a number of Johnson’s supporters want the rule to change because it represents a constant threat over the ability of any speaker — not just Johnson — to accomplish anything.

“[T]he rule makes it difficult for any speaker to do their job,” Johnson himself said back in October.

Now, though, a number of mostly unnamed “conservatives” were reportedly “considering Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s campaign to oust Johnson,” Axios reported.

The only member of Congress mentioned by name, however, was Florida’s Matt Gaetz, who was instrumental in McCarthy’s ouster last year but hasn’t committed to supporting the current rule, which allowed that ouster to happen.

Axios claimed that Gaetz “has turned on the speaker in recent days,” after initially supporting his speakership.

The outlet also claimed that the unnamed “conservatives” were “enraged” Thursday, in part because of tongue-in-cheek prompting from Wisconsin Republican Rep. Derrick Van Orden to push forward with the motion to vacate.

Kentucky’s Rep. Thomas Massie said Tuesday that he’d co-sponsor that motion over the speaker’s plan to move forward with the foreign aid proposals without also addressing border security.

Separating border security funding from the foreign aid proposals will prevent some of the strongest border hawks from leveraging their votes on additional money to Israel and Ukraine to fund the border in a closely divided House.

A handful of Democrats, however, told Axios that they would vote against a motion to remove Johnson from the speaker’s chair, meaning that he’d more likely be able to retain his position.

Former President Donald Trump has previously expressed his support for the speaker, though his tone has moderated recently as the threat to his position has risen, the outlet noted.

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