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3rd Republican joins motion to oust Mike Johnson as House speaker

Arizona GOP Rep. Paul Gosar, seen here on Capitol Hill in June 2023, announced Friday he's joining the move to oust Mike Johnson as House speaker.
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Arizona GOP Rep. Paul Gosar, seen here on Capitol Hill in June 2023, announced Friday he's joining the move to oust Mike Johnson as House speaker.

Updated April 19, 2024 at 2:21 PM ET

A third Republican House member has signed onto the effort to remove Mike Johnson as House speaker.

"We need a Speaker who puts America first rather than bending to the reckless demands of the warmongers, neo-cons and the military industrial complex making billions from a costly and endless war half a world away," Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar said in a statement late Friday morning.

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene filed the motion to vacate resolution nearly a month ago, in part over disputes with the speaker on how he handled a $1.2 trillion appropriations package. Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie co-sponsored that motion earlier this week.

The trio of Republicans have expressed dismay that Johnson forged ahead with Ukraine aid without securing support for a bill aimed to strengthen security along the U.S.-Southern border.

Gosar's announcement came shortly after a House vote to advance foreign aid bills to Ukraine, Taiwan and Israel, which required Democrats' support to offset GOP defections.

With Gosar signing onto the effort to oust the speaker it means Johnson will likely need votes from Democrats if the resolution comes up for a vote. The GOP majority shrinks to a one-vote margin after Wisconsin GOP Rep. Mike Gallagher's resignation becomes official, which is expected after the House votes on the foreign aid package.

Some Democrats have indicated they would help save Johnson if the motion to vacate comes to the floor.

Rep. Bob Good, who chairs the House Freedom Caucus, said that although he disagrees with Johnson, he doesn't think it's in Republicans' interest to remove him as speaker.

"I don't defend the performance of the speaker, I don't defend the actions that have been taken," Good told reporters after the Friday vote. "However, that doesn't mean that I support what I would consider to be not the most prudent action right now. We're six months before an election, we have a two-three vote margin."

Several members of the Republican conference had called for a Thursday rule to include changing the threshold to bring a motion to remove the speaker — which currently is just one member.

Rep. Mike Lawler, a moderate Republican from a New York swing district, said Thursday the threshold should be changed "immediately."

"However it needs to get done, it should get done," Lawler said. "If Mike Johnson is removed simply because he put aid to our allies on the floor, No. 1, it'll cause another prolonged amount of chaos. And No. 2, it will make it that much harder for the next speaker to do the right thing at the right time."

But Johnson went on social media Thursday to say the House will "continue to govern under the existing rules."

Democrats provide critical votes to advance GOP foreign aid package

House Democrats played a key role in helping GOP leaders advance legislation to provide nearly $95 billion in stalled funding for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, teeing up a vote on final passage on Saturday.

"Even though it's not the perfect legislation, it's not the legislation that we would write if Republicans were in charge of both the House, the Senate, and the White House, this is the best possible product that we can get under these circumstances," Johnson said after the vote.

Democrats also took the extremely rare step of voting to advance the Republican foreign aid bills out of the Rules Committee late Thursday night.

House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar of California, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York and House Minority Whip Katherine Clark of Massachusetts speak during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
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House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar of California, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York and House Minority Whip Katherine Clark of Massachusetts speak during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

Republican Reps. Chip Roy, Thomas Massie and Ralph Norman voted against the rule in committee.

Ahead of the vote, Democratic leaders had not committed to supporting the rule, as text was not yet available. But they said they were open to the possibility and they were committed to getting foreign aid passed.

"We're going to do what's necessary to make sure that the national security bill gets over the finish line," House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said Thursday morning.

Minority support of a majority rule virtually never happens. As a result, Johnson and his predecessor, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, have seen several rules fail on the floor, largely over objections from the right flank of the party.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Lexie Schapitl is a production assistant with NPR's Washington Desk, where she produces radio pieces and digital content. She also reports from the field and assists with production of the NPR Politics Podcast.
Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.
Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.