WASHINGTON — Far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Friday filed a motion to oust Speaker Mike Johnson, doing so just as the House voted to avoid a government shutdown.

Johnson, R-La., has served as speaker for five months, having taken over for Kevin McCarthy, who was ousted from the top job under a similar process.

It was not immediately clear how the House would act on her motion, which requires just a majority vote to remove the speaker. Greene, R-Ga., did not file the motion as privileged — which would force a vote within two legislative days — but instead as a regular motion, which could be referred to a committee, where it would likely languish.

Greene told reporters that her motion to vacate was “more of a warning than a pink slip,” saying she does not want to “throw the House into chaos,” like the three and a half weeks that the chamber was without a speaker when McCarthy, her close ally, was ousted.

“I’m not saying that it won’t happen in two weeks or it won’t happen in a month or who knows when. But I am saying the clock has started. It’s time for our conference to choose a new speaker,” she said.

She also said she had not discussed the motion with former President Donald Trump.

US Speaker of the House Mike Johnson.
Rep. Mike Johnson has served as House speaker since October.Jim Watson / AFP – Getty Images

The House left for a two-week recess Friday and won’t consider the motion until after it returns, an official familiar with the process told NBC News. The House will return to session April 9.

Raj Shah, a spokesman for Johnson, said the speaker’s focus is “on governing. He will continue to push conservative legislation that secures our border, strengthens our national defense and demonstrates how we’ll grow our majority.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who forced the vote to remove McCarthy as speaker, told reporters Thursday that he doesn’t support a motion to vacate the chair and evict Johnson.

“If we vacated this speaker, we’d end up with a Democrat,” Gaetz told reporters. “When I vacated the last one, I made a promise to the country that we would not end up with the Democrat speaker. And I was right. I couldn’t make that promise again.”

Asked how that could happen, Gaetz said, “We’d have Republicans cross over. I worry that we’ve got Republicans who would vote for Hakeem Jeffries at this point. I really do. I take no joy in saying that. But you can only vacate the speaker if you know that the party leadership won’t change hands. I knew that with certainty last time. I don’t know it with certainty this time.”

Gaetz’s move against McCarthy led to the first time in U.S. history that a House speaker was removed in the middle of a session. It sparked weeks of chaos in the thin Republican majority as they scrambled to find a replacement before settling on Johnson.

Some moderate Democrats have previously said they would vote to save Johnson if someone attempted to oust him, not out of love for the current speaker but to avoid another fight over replacement that would bring all business in the House to a halt.

Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-N.Y., said he’d be among the Democratic votes for Johnson.

“This is a comedy routine, the idea that they’re trying to kick the speaker out for trying to keep the government open. It’s absurd. So I’m fed up with it and I’ll vote to keep him the speaker,” he said.

And vulnerable Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa., said she, too, was leaning strongly toward rescuing Johnson though she hasn’t made up her mind.

“I do not think that Speaker Johnson has been a model speaker or serves as a model for future speakers,” Wild said in an interview outside the Capitol. “Having said that, I really, absolutely, want to see us get work done, and the last thing in the world I want is another two- or three-week hiatus because it’s really hard for me to imagine who would be next in line.”

“I can’t imagine that the Democrats would let this motion to vacate be successful,” she added.

Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., called several times Friday for Democrats to join the majority of Republicans in saving Johnson. He said that Greene’s motion would “make chaos and create unnecessary distractions.”

Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., who voted to oust McCarthy, said Friday he wouldn’t support a motion to remove Johnson. “No, he’s not lied to me,” he said.

But Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., remained noncommittal on the motion to vacate, saying he wants to hear a plan from Greene for who would take over as speaker if Johnson is ousted.

Greene had been dropping hints about her plans. Asked about a motion to vacate on Steve Bannon’s podcast Friday, before the spending vote, she said: “We are making that decision on a minute-by-minute basis today, Steve, and I think you can stay tuned. I urge you to watch what happens.”

On Thursday afternoon, Greene told NBC News, “There’s a lot of people talking about a motion to vacate.”

But she didn’t elaborate on whether or when she would actually file a motion. When asked why, she replied, “All kinds of issues.”

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