House Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-LA) days in his prestigious position, like those of his predecessor, could come to a premature end as a new year hasn’t relieved old problems for the top Republican.
After an initial honeymoon period following his election as House speaker amid the chaos of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s removal, many House Republicans are beginning to sour on Johnson. Conservative members of the House have indicated that cutting a budget deal with Democrats, the same thing that resulted in McCarthy’s removal, could be grounds to remove Johnson as well.
Here are four signs Johnson’s time as House speaker may soon come to an end.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) threats
Greene began sounding the alarm on a Johnson removal last week, issuing her first threat to vacate the speakership if he struck a deal with the Democrats.
“In my meeting with him yesterday and many other members of Congress, I let Speaker Johnson know that in no way, shape, and form will I support any type of CR,” Greene said. “We aren’t continuing … Nancy Pelosi’s budget, and that if he moves forward with a separate deal trading our border security, weakening H.R. 2 in exchange for $60 billion to Ukraine, I told him yesterday in his office that I would vacate the chair, that that is absolutely unacceptable. And we actually have the power of the purse. We’re the ones that are in control, and we need to control the negotiation.”
On Wednesday, Johnson made his way down Pennsylvania Avenue to meet with President Joe Biden and other congressional leaders to discuss a deal that would address security at the southern border and funding for Ukraine. Johnson and Senate leaders expressed optimism about the meeting afterward, but that attitude wasn’t shared by Greene, who took her threats a step further, warning she would “introduce the motion to vacate myself” if Johnson passed a spending bill that included funding for Ukraine.
Rep. Chip Roy’s (R-TX) warnings
Roy made similar comments last week about the possibility of removing Johnson, telling CNN’s Kaitlan Collins he didn’t prefer the option but that he could be left with no choice.
“We’re spending more money we don’t have,” Roy said. “It’s just more of the same, and, you know, I wish Speaker Johnson [wasn’t] doing this. I’m very disappointed, and hopefully, we can try to figure out what we can do to change it in the next few days.”
He didn’t rule out removing Johnson but said he would “see what happens this week.”
Rep. Eli Crane’s (R-AZ) comments
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Crane toyed with the idea of removing Johnson, referring to the motion to vacate as “a good tool.”
“If things continue to go the way that they’re going, do I think that’s a possible outcome? Absolutely,” he added.
It’s unclear whether Democrats will back Johnson if his party turns on him and forces another vote on a new speaker. When Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and his colleagues threatened to oust McCarthy last year, Democrats stayed silent on the matter and joined in the votes to remove the speaker.
Johnson has built up some goodwill with Democrats, who told reporters that his short time in leadership hasn’t shown them they have the same problems or concerns as they had with McCarthy. But it’s unclear how House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) will direct his caucus if a fight for the gavel breaks out.
General discord within House Republicans
Many House Republicans outside of the Freedom Caucus believe that Johnson is in “way, way over his head” and may be removed soon, according to Punchbowl News.
“Significant concerns growing about Mike’s ability to jump to this level and deliver conservative wins,” a representative said. “Growing feeling that he’s in way, way over his head. As much as there was valid criticism and frustration with Kevin, Mike is struggling to grow into the job and is just getting rolled even more than McCarthy did.”