Gosar becomes third House GOP member to back effort to oust Johnson from speakership

Rep. Paul Gosar on Friday signed on to the effort to remove Speaker Mike Johnson from his job, the Arizona Republican announced in a news release, becoming the third member to do so.

Gosar huddled on the House floor earlier in the day with GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Thomas Massie, the other two co-sponsors of the motion to vacate the speakership.

They have not taken steps to force a floor vote on the resolution. The House adjourned for the rest of the day on Friday afternoon, meaning the earliest Greene could move to oust Johnson is Saturday.

If Greene takes that consequential step, the House will have to consider it within two legislative days. This means leadership could wait to handle it on the floor after the weeklong recess if they so choose. A floor vote to oust Johnson would require a majority to succeed.

Conservative lawmakers, who are unhappy with the speaker over his proposed foreign aid bills among other priorities, have attacked the speaker for relying on Democrats to advance the bills.

Rep. Chip Roy, a key hardliner who sits on the House Rules Committee, accused Johnson of giving away Republicans’ leverage on border security. However, he would not say if he would support ousting the speaker.

“I’m not getting into that right now,” he said, but when pressed on whether moving to oust the speaker would hurt the House GOP conference, he replied, “I mean, it’s bad for our party not to lead,” and lamented the GOP’s inaction on border security.

Other GOP hardliners were also seething on Friday.

“It’s tough to defend him right now. You know, and that’s hard to say, but it’s just a reality,” said Rep. Eli Crane.

The Arizona Republican, who voted to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy last fall, didn’t rule out supporting efforts to remove Johnson.

“My position is that I’m open, and I’m not going to tell you guys what I’m going to do. We’ll see if that materializes, we’ll see if the trigger is pulled on this. That won’t be up to me, but I’m definitely frustrated like a lot of the conference and like a lot of the American people,” he said.

“He knows how frustrated I am. I do it as respectfully as I can, but I’m not going to pull punches because at the end of the day this is so much bigger than me or the motion to vacate or Speaker Mike Johnson,” Crane added. “To me, this comes down to, ‘Are we going to try to save this country, or are we just going to continue on with the Washington uniparty that continuously sells out the American people?’”

Rep. Dan Bishop targeted his ire at the House GOP Conference’s leadership as a whole, calling their actions “pathetic.”

“My purpose is not really criticism of the speaker, per se, it’s the whole – it’s the power sources within the Republican Conference and the way – and the speaker, unfortunately, has acceded to it – but it’s the way that they never prioritize center-right Americans’ priorities. Never. And that’s where we’ve ended up again, and I think it’s pathetic,” he said.

Bishop was clear that he is not supporting removing Johnson from the speakership – for now. “I don’t see any particular advantage in solving the problem I just described by moving against the speaker at this time,” said the North Carolina Republican.

Gosar’s move comes as Johnson has faced growing threats to his speakership for his handling of legislation to send foreign aid to Ukraine and Israel.

That threat reached its highest point yet on Thursday after CNN and other outlets reported that Johnson was being lobbied by his members to raise the threshold required to trigger the procedure to oust the speaker – a move that would help ensure the Louisiana Republican can pass foreign aid bills and still keep his job without needing to rely on Democrats to bail him out.

The speaker was surrounded on the House floor on Thursday by a number of far-right lawmakers in a heated discussion. The group implored Johnson to give them assurances that he would not raise the threshold on the motion to vacate, but the speaker would not commit, leaving many of the lawmakers fuming and some even saying this was a red line that could propel the motion to oust him forward.

After that pressure, Johnson said later in the day that he will not change the procedure for removing him from the speakership.

Prominent conservative lawmakers echoed Bishop in refusing to back removing Johnson from the speakership until at least the election in November.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Good told CNN’s Manu Raju that Johnson “has failed us,” and sharply criticized his handling of the foreign aid bills, though he added that he is opposed to ousting Johnson ahead of November.

“I don’t defend the performance of the speaker, I don’t defend the actions that have been taken, including today, I think this is a terrible mistake. However, that doesn’t mean that I support what I would consider to be not the most prudent action right now. We’re 6 months before an election, we’ve got a two or three vote margin. There’s a far greater degree of uncertainty in that situation than there was back in September,” he said.

Rep. Ralph Norman, another Republican hardliner, agreed that they should leave Johnson in place through the election, and said he hopes Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene holds off on her effort to oust the speaker.

“We’ve got seven months until an election. We’ll have a new president, hopefully, and then we’ll see how the speaker race comes out. And to be honest, I don’t know if Mike, after all this – he’s going through a lot, he’s doing in his mind what he thinks is best. I will not criticize them. I disagree with him, I’m not going to criticize him,” said Norman.

This story has been updated with additional developments and reporting.

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