Marjorie Taylor Greene renews attacks on speaker as House passes Ukraine aid

<span>Marjorie Taylor Greene exits the Capitol after a House vote on Friday. Greene has accused Mike Johnson of betraying his party.</span><span>Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Marjorie Taylor Greene exits the Capitol after a House vote on Friday. Greene has accused Mike Johnson of betraying his party.Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Republican infighting over the US House finally approving $61bn in military aid for Ukraine continued to roil the party on Sunday as the far-right representative Marjorie Taylor Greene renewed attacks on the Republican speaker, Mike Johnson.

Johnson had betrayed his party and was working for the Democrats, and his speakership was “over”, the Georgia representative said, although it was not clear if and when Greene would file a motion to try to remove him, which she has threatened to do in recent weeks.

The fresh criticism from Greene came after Johnson ended months of stalling on the aid package for Ukraine’s desperate defence against Russia – as well as billions for allies including Israel and Taiwan – and finally forced a vote on it in the House of Representatives on Saturday, defying the far right of his party.

Related: Exclusive: Georgia lawmaker runs secret election-conspiracy Telegram channel

In a bipartisan vote, 210 Democrats and 101 Republicans joined to support Ukraine, with 112 Republicans – a majority of the GOP members – voting against.

“He is absolutely working for the Democrats. He’s passing the Biden administration’s agenda,” Greene said of Johnson on Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures With Maria Bartiromo. “Mike Johnson’s speakership is over. He needs to do the right thing to resign and allow us to move forward in a controlled process.

“If he doesn’t do so, he will be vacated.”

Johnson escalated the most recent turmoil among his GOP colleagues last week after agreeing to the floor vote on the $95bn foreign aid package. The package, green-lighted by the Senate in February, includes $61bn for Ukraine, $14bn for Israel, and lesser sums for Taiwan and other allies in the Pacific.

The Senate is expected to start weighing this House bill on Tuesday and it is expected to pass this coming week, which would enable Joe Biden to sign it into law.

The speaker’s decision heightened the split in his party, with the right insisting any support for foreign aid had to include concessions to their domestic priorities, including border security. The same ultra-conservatives had orchestrated Johnson’s ascent to speaker in October by ousting his predecessor, the Republican Kevin McCarthy.

This group of Republicans have increasingly expressed public antipathy toward helping Ukraine, in keeping with their political leader, Donald Trump, who has long shown admiration toward the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

Johnson on Saturday stood by his decision, saying that the provision of military aid was “critically important”, as well as “the right thing”, even in the face of political risks from his party’s far right.

“I really believe the intel and the briefings that we’ve gotten,” Johnson stated. “I believe that Xi and Vladimir Putin and Iran really are an axis of evil. I think they are in coordination on this. I think that Vladimir Putin would continue to march through Europe.

“I am going to allow an opportunity for every single member of the House to vote their conscience and their will,” Johnson also said. “I’m willing to take a personal risk for that, because we have to do the right thing. And history will judge us.”

In order to even get the floor vote, Johnson had to work with Democrats, whom he earlier needed to advance other legislation, such as a significant government funding bill.

The fissure in the party widened in March, when Greene revealed a motion to oust Johnson from the role of speaker. She has not yet tried to force a vote on that issue, but the House Republicans Thomas Massie, of Kentucky, and Paul Gosar, of Arizona, are now co-sponsors.

Greene has not filed that motion, however, and any next steps seem vague. Immediately after the House vote on Saturday, Greene said that she wouldn’t take any formal steps to boot Johnson from speaker but, like her colleagues, wanted to hear from constituents first, the Washington Post reported. “I’m looking forward to them hearing from the folks back at home,” Greene said, “but this is a sellout of America today.”

On Sunday, Fox News’s Bartiromo pushed Greene on the seeming vagaries, saying on the talkshow: “Well, with respect, you didn’t give me a plan for the speaker’s role and again, does this mean you are going to file that motion at some point?”

“It’s coming, regardless of what Mike Johnson decides to do,” Greene said. “We have three more Republicans joining us for a special election coming up very soon, so people need to know this can happen.”

Not all Republicans are worried about Johnson’s future as House speaker, however.

“He will survive,” Tony Gonzales, a Texas Republican representative, said on Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “Look, the House is a rough and rowdy place, but Mike Johnson is going to be just fine.”

For Gonzales, Johnson’s ushering of this aid package is positive for Congress overall.

“I think Mike Johnson is going to avoid the cannibals in his own party here. He stood up to them this weekend and the adults, we took control of the US Congress,” he said. “I think people got sick and tired – he’s one of them – of Marjorie Taylor Greene being in charge of their life and they just finally said ‘no’.”

The GOP division on Ukraine is also playing out in the Senate, with pro-aid Republican senator Linsdey Graham slamming Ohio senator JD Vance’s seeming belief that the country can’t win.

In a New York Times op-ed last week, Vance wrote: “Ukraine’s challenge is not the GOP; it’s math. Ukraine needs more soldiers than it can field. And it needs more materiel than the United States can provide.”

“That is garbage,” Graham said on Fox News Sunday, in response to Vance’s claim about manpower, per the Hill.

“Go … I just got back, I was there two weeks ago. They changed their conscription laws. They have all the manpower they need. They need the weapons,” Graham said. “It’s one thing to talk about Ukraine over here; it’s another thing to go.”