May 7, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Mike Johnson defends private MTG meetings as motion to vacate lingers

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Speaker Mike Johnson says he wants to lead the House in 2025, and isn't apologizing for meeting with his defectors as he works to beat back an ouster attempt.

Why it matters: Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) are making demands of Johnson as he looks to stave off a motion to strip him of his gavel. But GOP members argue concessions could come at a price.

  • Greene isn't fully backing down despite not advancing the motion after yesterday's two hour meeting in the speaker's office, a source familiar with the discussion told Axios.
  • Johnson, Massie, Greene and Gosar are set to continue discussions at 12:30pm ET on Tuesday.

Zoom in: Greene and Massie want Johnson to...

  • Enforce automatic cuts to government funding if Congress doesn't complete its appropriations bills
  • Pass no more Ukraine aid
  • Defund special counsel probes, including the Jack Smith investigations
  • Require a majority of GOP support to advance legislation

The other side: "It's not a negotiation, okay, this is how I've operated as speaker," Johnson told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday.

  • "I committed to do it before I became speaker and we've been doing this for the last, last six months."
  • "On almost on an hourly basis I hear suggestions and ideas and thoughts from members, my door has been open from day one."

Between the lines: After facing calls to back down from the effort from senior lawmakers and former President Trump, some members are optimistic they can dodge an additional vote placing a spotlight on infighting ahead of the election.

  • Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) — the third cosponsor on the motion to vacate — told Axios he is against moving forward with it this week.

The bottom line: Some members are cautioning that former Speaker McCarthy's (R-Calif.) agreement with hardliners to get the gavel played a significant role in the chaos seen throughout the 118th Congress.

  • "We got in trouble January 2023, right? And we may have paid way too much and I think for right now I would be very careful," Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) told reporters following a closed door conference meeting.
  • Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) said he doesn't have a problem with Johnson meeting with and listening to his defectors, but does take issue with "behind closed door deals," noting it was an issue they faced with McCarthy.
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