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Greene plans to start the clock on vote to depose Johnson next week

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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said Wednesday she will officially trigger the clock to hold a referendum on Speaker Mike Johnson’s leadership next week — an effort that now seems doomed.

Greene and her allies will bring up the motion to vacate resolution as privileged, which would then force a House vote on Johnson remaining speaker within two legislative days. It would be the second attempt to depose a speaker within seven months.

“Next week, I am going to be calling this motion to vacate. Absolutely I’m calling it. I can’t wait to see Democrats go out and support a Republican speaker and have to go home to their primaries and have to run for Congress again, having supported a Republican speaker, a Christian conservative. I think that’ll play well,” Greene said at a press conference Wednesday morning.

Greene didn’t immediately specify what day she will move to force a vote, with the House set to leave town on Wednesday and return on Monday. But Republican leadership is strongly considering trying to move to quickly dispense with her proposal to fire the speaker as soon as she pushes it to the floor, three Republicans familiar with the plans told POLITICO.

Republicans had been bracing for Greene to trigger the speaker-deposing vote as soon as Wednesday. But Greene and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who spoke alongside her at Wednesday’s press conference, are hoping the extra time will build pressure not only on their fellow GOP colleagues, but also on Johnson, who they want to resign.

“Everybody needs the weekend to prepare. I am not irresponsible. I care about my conference,” Greene said.

Massie added that Johnson “deserves a weekend to think about it. He should resign.”

Johnson has previously dismissed any suggestion that he will resign. Unlike the effort against former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Greene’s motion already seems certain to fail, as House Democratic leaders announced Tuesday that they would step in to save Johnson.

“I have no reaction. The statement that we issued yesterday speaks for itself,” Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said Wednesday.

But Greene said on Wednesday that she will move forward with the vote anyway, arguing that the House GOP conference has gotten out of sync with the party’s base. She described those voters as furious with Johnson after he helped push through a controversial surveillance program and billions in additional Ukraine aid. Even if the vote fails, she added that it would give voters a “list of names.”

And she forcefully pushed back on Wednesday when asked if forcing a vote only further highlights House GOP divisions and plays into the hands of House Democrats.

“That little narrative that you echoed is a lie. That comes from the Republican establishment that Republican voters are ready to take a sledgehammer to and destroy. They’re fed up with it. You wanna know why? That’s bullshit,” she said.

She also dismissed questions about her going against the wishes of former President Donald Trump, who has thrown his support behind Johnson since she originally filed her motion to vacate the speaker weeks ago.

“I’m the biggest supporter of President Trump,” she said. “I fight for his agenda every single day. And that’s why I’m fighting here against my own Republican conference, to fight harder against the Democrats.”

So far, only two Republicans have said they will back Greene’s effort: Massie and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.). Massie forcefully defended Greene and their plans against Johnson at the Wednesday morning press conference. Gosar, according to Greene, was unable to join due to prior scheduling commitments.

But several other conservatives have remained noncommittal, sparking concerns that the number of GOP rebels could grow. It wouldn’t be enough to actually tank Johnson’s speakership, but would give some of his hardliners a symbolic way to voice their displeasure.

During a House Freedom Caucus meeting on Monday, members discussed how they would handle the upcoming vote, with most saying lawmakers should vote their conscience, according to two people familiar with the meeting. Others were turned off by Greene leading the charge, especially given the group ejected the Georgia lawmaker from their own ranks last year. The group is not expected to take a formal position on the ouster effort, according to two members.

Johnson, during an interview with The Hill on NewsNation, downplayed Greene’s effort — saying “bless her heart” when the interviewer brought up the Georgia lawmaker. Asked if he believed Greene was a serious lawmaker, he replied: “I don’t think she is proving to be.”

Greene, asked about his comments at Wednesday’s press conference, brushed off the criticism.

“I’m not into personal attacks. That’s not why I’m doing this,” she said, despite a history of personal attacks against her colleagues. “This has nothing to do with Mike Johnson as a person. But this is about his job performance.”

Nicholas Wu contributed to this report.