Mike Johnson slams Marjorie Taylor Greene’s ‘absurd’ bid to oust him as second lawmaker joins push

House Speaker Mike Johnson is refusing to heed calls for his resignation from far-right extremist members after he agreed to allow the House to consider legislation to authorise further military aid to Ukraine along with defence assistance for Israel and Taiwan.

“I am not concerned about this, I am going to do my job, and I think that’s what the American people expect of us,” declared the speaker at a press conference on Tuesday.

The Louisiana Republican was urged to step down by Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie during a meeting of the House GOP Conference on Tuesday after Mr Johnson said he was putting forth legislation to fund Israeli and Ukrainian defence needs over the objection of members such as Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene, who weeks ago filed a motion to remove him as Speaker after he allowed the House to vote on funding the federal government for the rest of the current fiscal year.

Mr Massie, a MIT-educated engineer who routinely opposes all government spending bills, said he would co-sponsor Ms Greene’s measure, which would declare Mr Johnson’s office “vacant”. It is the same procedural tactic a group of Republicans used last year to oust former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy after he allowed a vote to keep the government funded.

“I asked him to resign. The motion is going to get called and then he’s going to lose more votes than Kevin McCarthy,” he told reporters at a gaggle following the GOP conference meeting on Tuesday.

Thomas Massie has joined Marjorie Taylor Greene’s effort to unseat the Speaker (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Thomas Massie has joined Marjorie Taylor Greene’s effort to unseat the Speaker (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

But at a press conference minutes later, the Speaker dismissed Mr Massie’s demand outright.

“It is, in my view, an absurd notion that someone would bring a vacate motion when we are simply here trying to do our jobs,” he said.

By noon, a number of Democrats had already indicated to various news outlets that they would not vote in unison in favour of a motion to vacate the speakership, as the party had done last fall in the case of Kevin McCarthy. That move, led by the so-called “Gaetz Eight” group of Republican rebels, threw the House into chaos and inaction for weeks.

One of those Democrats was Brad Sherman, no. 2 Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He told The Independent in an interview that his party would likely rally in defence of the embattled speaker were he to make good on his promise to bring up the full supplemental funding package passed by the Senate in February, and did so in a way that poison pill amendments did not tank the legislation.

Speaking about the supplemental funding package, he said on Tuesday: “We've got to pass it, and it's got to include the humanitarian aid. I think if [Speaker Johnson] does that, and then there's a motion to vacate the speakership because he did the right thing, even if he did it in four separate notebooks on unlimited colored papers, the Democrats will not allow it to pass."