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Marjorie Taylor Greene struggles to find GOP support for deposing Mike Johnson

Only two Republicans have signed onto Greene's effort to oust the House speaker, and neither would say when or if a vote is planned.
Marjorie Taylor Greene
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is furious about Ukraine aid.Bryan Olin Dozier / NurPhoto via AP

WASHINGTON — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., is struggling to find allies in her push to overthrow Speaker Mike Johnson after he put Ukraine funding to a vote, with many fellow hard-right Republicans saying they oppose her cause after a weeklong recess.

“I oppose a motion to vacate at the current time,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who led the “motion to vacate” that ousted Kevin McCarthy as speaker and has been critical of Johnson, R-La.

"I think that's pretty much not gonna happen. We're at too much of a slim majority," added another Florida Republican, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, who has been highly critical of Johnson but is worried Democrats could end up in the majority after another chaotic coup.

"I don't support what he's doing; he went back on his word to us," she said of Johnson. "However, I'm not going to risk giving the gavel to a Democrat."

Gaetz and Luna weren't alone. Numerous conservative lawmakers who have blasted the recent Johnson-blessed spending bills and foreign aid package said as the House returned from a weeklong recess that they aren’t ready to support Greene’s push to remove Johnson. They cited a number of reasons: They worry it would disrupt GOP unity ahead of the election, they fear there isn’t a better replacement, they believe it’d fail due to a thinning majority, and some say the time isn't right.

“I’m not hearing a lot of critical mass for it,” said Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., who added that he doesn’t expect the motion to come to the floor. “I’m not hearing any chatter.”

Asked if he’d vote to remove Johnson as he did McCarthy, Biggs told reporters on Monday: “I won’t answer a hypothetical. What I’ve said is: It’s not the time. Although I’m profoundly frustrated, disappointed and disgruntled, it’s not the time.”

He echoed Luna's worries that the House might end up electing a Democrat as speaker because Republicans are on the brink of a “one-vote majority” and if “one person is out sick,” they could end up being in the minority that day.

Rep. Eli Crane, R-Ariz., said the motion would fail if it came up.

“I’ve left the door open, but, one I don’t think it’s good timing. Two, if it was triggered, I don’t think it would pass,” he said. “I think that the Democrats would keep Speaker Johnson. I think they would save him. So I don’t think it would pass. And furthermore, even if it did pass, I don’t have much confidence with the conference that we have that we could get a more conservative speaker for the American people.”

Crane said he doesn’t expect it to come to a vote, though he hadn’t heard that directly from Greene. “It’s the little rumor mill,” he said. “I have not talked to Marjorie about this.”

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said he’s deeply frustrated by the speaker’s actions. “You just funded Ukraine. You just funded Israel. You just funded Hamas while you were funding Israel,” he said, referring to humanitarian aid for Gaza civilians. “You just funded a $1.7 trillion massive expenditure of government. You gave up all leverage that you have to deal with the border. So now we've got to get busy trying to convince people to elect us so we can do better next year.”

Still, Roy said he’s more focused on the upcoming issues like passing a farm bill and the next round of government funding in October.

“We’ve been home, we’ve been talking to constituents. My constituents fully agree with my concerns, and frankly, made it known that they’re angry about it,” Roy said. “They also want us to unify and beat Democrats. So we’ve got to do those two things. I think we can unify and beat Democrats with a clear agenda. And I think that’s what we got to focus on right now.”

Republicans in competitive districts are eager to put the issue to rest and focus on the upcoming election.

“If this is real, it’s ridiculous, absurd and it undermines the institution and our work. If it’s a bluff, it’s a horrific abuse and waste of time,” said Rep. Marc Molinaro, R-N.Y. “And either way, put it to bed. Let’s move on.”

Meanwhile, the top three House Democrats, led by Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., issued an extraordinary joint statement Tuesday vowing that they would vote to save Johnson if Greene brought up her motion, saying “the time has come to turn the page on this chapter of Pro-Putin Republican obstruction.”

“We will vote to table Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Motion to Vacate the Chair. If she invokes the motion, it will not succeed.”

Greene missed votes on Monday, avoiding a pack of reporters searching for her, and her office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the Democrats' statement. But she hasn't taken the threat of ousting Johnson off the table.

“Johnson will do whatever Biden/Schumer want in order to keep the Speaker’s gavel in his hand, but he has completely sold out the Republican voters who gave us the majority,” Greene wrote on X.

“His days as Speaker are numbered," she continued.

Only two conservative colleagues — Reps. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., and Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. — have co-sponsored her resolution. But neither gave clear answers about whether a vacate vote would happen soon.

"My understanding is Democrats are going to cover for him, so we'll play the psychological game," Gosar told NBC News, adding of Johnson's future: "The seeds have been sown."

Massie also had no updates when asked if or when it would come up.

“We’re not going to talk about it right now,” he said, adding that he’s talked to constituents and “I haven’t gotten any blowback.”

But Massie held his ground that Johnson should go.

“He’s not inspiring anybody to give us the majority if he’s going to be sharing the majority with Democrats,” he said, accusing Johnson of deploying “weapons of mass distraction” from his policies, like his visit to Columbia to chastise campus protests.

Massie said Trump’s lukewarm support for Johnson is revealing.

“Sometimes by faintly praising somebody, you can kind of doom them. And I haven’t seen a full-throated defense of Mike Johnson because, ultimately, Trump doesn’t like a loser. And he’s, I think he’s worried about Mike Johnson and tying his future to that. And it would be a bad move to even campaign with him,” the Kentucky Republican said.

“Mike Johnson is only going to drag Trump down.”