House hardliners back off from Johnson ouster, push for concessions

 May 8, 2024

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) backed off from forcing a vote on her motion to vacate Speaker Mike Johnson's (R-LA) ouster this week after she and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) met with him on Monday to present a list of demands to him.

"We've had discussions in the speaker's office and right now the ball is in Mike Johnson's court," Greene said to reporters alongside Massie on Tuesday.

Among the demands was a pledge not to pass more Ukraine aid and de-funding Special Counsel Jack Smith's investigation into former President Donald Trump.

Federal spending cuts and assurances that Johnson won't bring a vote to the floor without majority support from the GOP conference were also on the list, Fox News reported.

"He understands"

"He understands that he's got to be our Republican Speaker of the House. The things that we've discussed about, that got leaked out to the press, are very simple and they serve the American people. They serve the people that gave us the majority," Greene said.

Under current House rules, it only takes one Republican to challenge the Speaker's leadership and force a vote of the entire chamber.

The current one-vote majority means that if Democrats all vote against Johnson, it only takes two Republicans to oust him as Speaker.

What Greene and Massie are not acknowledging in this instance is that a good number of Democrats would likely vote to keep Johnson as Speaker because he brought a bill for Ukraine aid to the floor as they wanted him to.

Republicans had previously insisted that border security be passed before a Ukraine aid bill could be brought up, or that they be passed simultaneously, but Democrats balked and would not pass the border security measures Republicans favored.

Not the first time

It's not the first time Johnson has angered hardliners in his party. He also compromised to get a budget passed and avoid a government shutdown when the hardliners apparently thought a shutdown was just fine.

The establishment wing of the party is warning Johnson not to make side deals with Greene and Massie to try to prevent the ouster, fearing that too many others would also start making demands for their own deals.

"I think his job as speaker is to listen a lot, and then he has to ultimately make a decision, so I don't have a problem with him listening," Republican Study Committee Chair Kevin Hern (R-OK) said on Tuesday morning. "What I would have a problem with – and we had this problem with Speaker McCarthy – is when you start making special deals, side deals and hidden deals… then people [say]… 'What about my deal?'"

One lawmaker speaking anonymously told Fox Digital, "It's hard to equate him and Speaker McCarthy, they're just entirely different and they had a different approach to most of everything."

"My management style has always been – you never, ever, ever grease a squeaky wheel," Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) said about potential side deals. "Because if you do, you’re going to end up with more squeaky wheels."

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