Updated Mar 24, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Mike Johnson faces right-wing fury over spending bill

House Speaker Mike Johnson, wearing a dark gray suit, white shirt, red striped tie and glasses, walks with aides and his security detail through the Capitol.

House Speaker Mike Johnson. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) is facing bubbling anger from his right flank after a bill to keep the government funded passed the House on Friday with support from fewer than half of Republicans.

Why it matters: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has taken the first step towards a vote to oust Johnson as speaker, and some hardliners aren't ruling out supporting his removal.

  • "We'll have to have a conversation in the conference depending on what Marjorie intends to do," Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) told Axios on Friday.
  • Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) said: "I'm not going speculate on hypotheticals."

By the numbers: The $1.2 trillion bill to fund some of the largest and most consequential federal agencies passed 286-134 on Friday.

  • While 185 Democrats voted for the bill, just 101 Republicans followed suit, with 112 Republicans – a majority of the conference – voting against it.
  • At issue was the fact that the bill represented a bipartisan compromise keeping spending roughly steady at 2023 levels and excluding harsh restrictions on abortion, diversity, transgender healthcare and more.

What they're saying: Roy, in a CNN "State of the Union" appearance on Sunday, criticized Johnson for both the substance of the bill and for waiving a rule that gives House members 72 hours to review major legislation.

  • "Mike was wrong," Roy said, warning that, if he puts a Ukraine aid bill on the floor, "there's going to be a problem within the ... ranks on Capitol Hill."
  • Greene, who has warned that a Ukraine aid bill would trigger her motion to vacate, said Sunday in a Fox News appearance: "This week Speaker Johnson, who has barely been a speaker for six months, led us to a complete catastrophe."
  • Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) told Axios that conservatives are "very" frustrated at Johnson because they are "finding out how bad the bill was."

The other side: Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who was ousted as speaker last year through a motion to vacate, said Sunday on CBS News "Face the Nation" that Johnson "is doing the very best job he can."

  • McCarthy urged Johson to "not be fearful of a motion to vacate," adding, "I do not think they could do it again ... I don't think the Democrats will go along with it."

Zoom in: Some hardliners who are frustrated with Johnson are arguing that supporting a motion to vacate is not the way to channel their anger.

  • "The decision by Speaker Johnson was unfortunate for America and one I disagree with, however now is not the time to remove him as Speaker," Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.).
  • Burchett, one of the Republicans who voted to remove McCarthy, warned on Friday that removing Johnson could put House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) in the speakership.

What to watch: Tensions could come to a head next month, when lawmakers in both parties expect Johnson to put Ukraine aid on the floor after months of delay.

Go deeper: Republicans livid as chaos threatens to cannibalize House majority

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional comments from Rep. Burchett.

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