Republicans talk of ousting Speaker Mike Johnson over spending deal furor

Some Republicans in the House of Representatives have discussed vacating House Speaker Mike Johnson over the spending agreement he made with Democrats over the weekend.

Johnson could face the same fate as his predecessor after some conservative members of Congress were outraged over the speaker’s budget deal with Democratic leadership, struck in an attempt to avoid a partial government shutdown as the January 19 funding deadline nears.

The Louisiana Republican was appointed 56th speaker of the House of Representatives in October 2023 after Kevin McCarthy was vacated from the position the same month, also after negotiating with Democrats to try to avoid a government stoppage.

On Sunday, Johnson, Democrats Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries announced a tentative agreement that would establish an overall spending level of nearly $1.66 trillion in 2024, similar to the bipartisan deal struck last year between President Joe Biden and McCarthy, despite cuts noted by Johnson in a letter to Congress.

GOP Discusses Vacating Johnson
U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson is pictured at the U.S. Capitol on November 7, 2023, in Washington, D.C. Several of Johnson’s GOP colleagues discussed vacating the speaker over his spending deal with Democrats.
Drew Angerer/Getty

The speaker said the agreement slashed $16 billion in spending, according to his letter to colleagues, which, he said, “represents the most favorable budget agreement Republicans have achieved in over a decade.”

Newsweek reached out via email on Tuesday night to Johnson’s office for comment.

Johnson’s deal was met with swift backlash from some of his GOP colleagues who have been calling for much steeper budget cuts, with roughly a dozen House Republicans vocally condemning the spending deal. The conservative House Freedom Caucus blasted the agreement as a “total failure.”

Representative Chip Roy, a Texas Republican and policy chair of the Freedom Caucus, has been a vocal critic of the tentative budget agreement. Appearing on BlazeTV’s The Steve Deace Show on Tuesday, Roy said he’d consider filing a motion to vacate Johnson over the deal.

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

When asked about the possibility of removing Johnson from office, Representative Tim Burchett, a Tennessee Republican, told reporters on Tuesday that “a lot of people were talking about it.”

Representative Victoria Spartz, an Indiana Republican, told Newsweek on Tuesday night that “people here and there” have been seriously considering ousting the speaker.

“Ultimately, it’s up to us members to be able to pull the gun,” Spartz said. “It’s not even just the Speaker. We’ll have to figure it out and be strong. Ultimately, Mike [Johnson] needs to show that he can win. He definitely inherited a difficult situation, so we’ll judge the result.”

Spartz told Newsweek that Republicans need to up their game and force Democrats to negotiate on spending totals.

“I think Republicans really need to become serious and force Democrats to the table because inflation, higher spending, and taxes are going to be destructive for our country,” the congresswoman said.

Representative Nancy Mace, a South Carolina Republican, told Newsweek that she hasn’t heard the motion to vacate calls from her colleagues. However, she offered a warning for fellow Republicans on the deal.

“We’re looking at $50 trillion in debt in the next 9 1/2 years, so Republicans are going to be just as much at fault as Democrats with record high spending that is going to continue to harm our economy and hardworking middle-class families,” Mace said.