House Speaker Johnson calls Greene’s move to oust him a ‘distraction’ for Republicans

Written by on April 1, 2024

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(WASHINGTON) — House Speaker Mike Johnson is going on the offense in an effort to save his speakership after fellow Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene filed a motion to oust him just months after he ascended to the position.

The motion to vacate, which was raised just before the chamber broke for recess, is a “distraction” for Republicans, Johnson said in an interview with Fox News on Sunday.

“I think that all of my other Republican colleagues recognize this is a distraction from our mission,” Johnson said. “Again, the mission is to save the Republic. And the only way we can do that is if we grow the House Majority, win the Senate and win the White House. So we don’t need any dissension right now.

The House is not expected to take up that resolution, because it was not submitted as “privileged.” Johnson said he has been texting with Greene and expects to meet with her early next week when the House returns.

“Marjorie is a friend. She is very frustrated about, for example, the last appropriations bills. Guess what? So am I,” Johnson said.

“…With the smallest margin in U.S. history, we’re sometimes going to get legislation that we don’t like,” he added. “And the Democrats know that when we don’t all stand together, with our razor-thin majority, then they have a better negotiation position, and that’s why we’ve got some of the things we didn’t like.”

Greene filed the motion to vacate Johnson after a vote to fund the government to prevent a shutdown — which Johnson needed Democratic votes to pass. The Georgia Republican called her motion to vacate a “warning,” adding that “it’s time for our conference to choose a new speaker.”

“This is basically a warning and it’s time for us to go through the process, take our time and find a new speaker of the House that will stand with Republicans and our Republican majority instead of standing with the Democrats,” Greene said.

Greene went after Johnson in a post on X Monday, saying the speaker sided with Democrats on border policy — part of the spending bill that Johnson endorsed to prevent a government shutdown.

“If Speaker Johnson gives another $60 billion to the defense of Ukraine’s border after he FULLY FUNDED Biden’s deadly open border, the cruel joke would be on the American people,” Greene posted on X. “And it won’t be April Fools.”

A motion to vacate led to the ouster of Johnson’s predecessor, Kevin McCarthy last year. He was removed from the post by Republican hard-liners who were similarly upset that he worked with Democrats to pass legislation, including an eleventh-hour deal to keep the government open last fall.

Johnson has held the position since October.

During the interview, Johnson also said that he expects to move a package including aid for Ukraine with “some important innovations” when the House returns from recess next week.

“…when it comes to the supplemental, we’ve been working to build that consensus. We’ve been talking to all the members, especially now over the district work period. When we return after this work period, we’ll be moving a product, but it’s going to I think, have some important innovations,” Johnson said.

The Senate passed its own version of the $95 billion national security supplemental in February. Johnson is not expected to put this bill on the floor, but laid out a few options for what the House bill might look.

The House could tack on the “REPO Act,” which would give President Joe Biden authority to seize Russian sovereign assets frozen in the U.S. and transfer them to Ukraine for its reconstruction.

“The REPO Act, you know, if we can use the seized assets of Russian oligarchs to allow the Ukrainians to fight them, that’s just pure poetry. Even President Trump has talked about the loan concept where we set up, we’re not just giving foreign aid, we are setting up in our relationship where they can provide it back to us when the time is right,” Johnson said on Fox News.

Republicans are also taking a closer look at the “loan” idea floated by former President Donald Trump: making aid available to Ukraine as a loan that is waivable with no interest.

Another option would be to allow for natural gas exports to continue after the Biden administration paused approvals of new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export permits earlier this year to examine climate impacts.

“And then, you know, we want to unleash American energy. We want to have natural gas exports that will help unfund Vladimir Putin’s war effort there,” Johnson said of the Russian president.

“You know, there’s a lot of things that we should do that make more sense and that I think we will have consensus around. We’re putting that product together and we will be moving it right after the district work period,” he added.

ABC News’ Sarah Beth Hensley contributed to this report.

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