Updated Apr 17, 2024 - Politics & Policy

GOP House speaker tenures shrink as caucus fractures

Length of recent GOP House speakerships
Data: house.gov; Chart: Rahul Mukherjee/Axios

Mike Johnson's (R-La.) speakership is on the verge of becoming another casualty of bitter division within the Republican Party.

Why it matters: If Johnson is ousted or resigns anytime soon, it will add to the recent trend of GOP speakerships being cut short by hard-right revolts.

Context: Republican Rep. Thomas Massie (Ky.) said on Tuesday he would support Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's (R-Ga.) effort to oust Johnson through a motion to vacate over plans to bring foreign aid bills to the floor.

Zoom out: The same motion to vacate process sunk McCarthy's speakership last year after he angered members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus and other GOP representatives after he relied on Democratic votes to avoid a partial government shutdown.

  • Members of the House Freedom Caucus were key in former Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) decision to step down after threatening to use the same vacate mechanism to oust him.
  • And while former Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wisc.) speakership wasn't cut short by party infighting, he decided not to run for re-election after taxing years of dealing with Trump and his allies.

Between the lines: Johnson resigning or being ousted anytime soon would paralyze the House amid several ongoing international crises.

  • After McCarthy was booted, the House went without a permanent speaker for over three weeks. How long it would go without one if Johnson is gone is anyone's guess.

The big picture: Democrats have said they are willing to save Johnson's speakership by opposing a motion to vacate if he meets their terms for the foreign aid bills.

  • Adding to the pressure is the Republicans will have a one-vote margin in the House after Friday, as Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) is leaving.

Go deeper: Mike Johnson sets up weekend showdown on foreign aid bills

Go deeper