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Republicans Are Already Talking About Possibly Removing Mike Johnson

A new report details how Republicans are growing testy with Johnson’s inability to lead the party.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson departs a House Republican Conference meeting on November 14, 2023, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Less than three months into his tenure as speaker of the House of Representatives, there is already talk among some Republicans in the chamber about ousting Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) from the role.

According to a report from Punchbowl News, Johnson’s leadership style — and his inability to produce a more popular deal for Republicans on a continuing resolution to fund the government — has irked a number of party members.

In the report, a GOP House member told the publication that there are “significant concerns growing about Mike’s ability to jump to this level [the speakership] and deliver conservative wins,” adding that there is a “growing feeling that he’s in way, way over his head.”

This person also said that Johnson is performing worse than his predecessor, former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-California), who became the first speaker in U.S. history to be removed from the position through a motion to vacate measure in early October.

“As much as there was valid criticism and frustration with Kevin, Mike is struggling to grow into the job and is just getting rolled even more than McCarthy did,” the GOP insider said.

The publication further reported that, while Johnson’s days aren’t yet “numbered,” there are “knives out for the speaker already” among the GOP conference.

While Democrats are apt to dislike Johnson for his far right, Christian nationalist views, much of the frustration with Johnson from within his own party stems from his determination to pass a continuing resolution to avert a government shutdown. Johnson has already expressed a willingness to break past promises to do so. In November, for example, he promised members of his party that he wouldn’t pass a short-term, temporary measure — but with a deadline to pass a spending bill less than 10 days away, he appears ready to cooperate with Democrats in the Senate to do just that.

The deal Johnson struck is also likely making members of the House’s far right Freedom Caucus upset with him. The agreement appears to largely benefit Democratic Party lawmakers’ priorities, as it will spend more than $772 billion in nondefense discretionary funding, and will protect veterans’ benefits, ensure funding for health care initiatives and fund nutrition assistance, programs that the far right group of lawmakers had wanted to drastically cut.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), a Freedom Caucus member, has also been outspoken about supporting a measure to remove Johnson. In an appearance on a radio program on Tuesday, Roy said he’s “leaving it on the table” for now on whether he’d file a motion to vacate Johnson himself.

“I’m not gonna say I’m gonna go file it tomorrow night. I’m not saying I’m not gonna file it tomorrow. I think the speaker needs to know that we’re angry,” Roy said.

Johnson is in a precarious position and cannot afford to upset hardliners or moderates within his party, due to the GOP’s narrow majority in the House. If lawmakers were to introduce a motion to vacate resolution, Johnson could only afford to lose the support of four Republicans out of 220 in the House right now, presuming every Democratic lawmaker would vote against him.

Johnson’s low approval among his own conference members is matched by his low approval rating among the American electorate, which largely opposes his far right views. According to a recent Gallup poll, only 40 percent of Americans approve of his job performance so far, with 55 percent saying they disapprove of how Johnson is handling the speakership.

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