House Democrats Say They’ll Save Speaker Mike Johnson—for a Price

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Mike Johnson may not be out of a job just yet, but staying on as House speaker is going to cost him.

Several House Democrats indicated Friday that they would be willing to shield Johnson from Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s motion to vacate. In exchange, the speaker must bring a Ukraine aid package to the floor for a vote.

“If Taylor Greene puts forth a motion to vacate because there’s a bill on the floor that we have the ability to vote on—the Senate-passed Ukraine bill—I would absolutely vote to table,” Representative Abigail Spanberger told Politico.

She was referring to a $95 billion aid package that has already passed the Senate with broad bipartisan support. The measure includes $60 billion in aid for Ukraine, an increasingly unpopular issue among far-right Republicans, as well as aid for Israel and Taiwan. If the package were to go up for a House vote, it is widely expected to pass, but Johnson has so far refused to bring the measure to the floor.

“I think Speaker Johnson should demonstrate a willingness to govern in a way that is helpful to the plight of democracy and our allies across the world,” Spanberger said.

Representative Jamie Raskin said that voting to table the motion to vacate would not be about “saving Mike Johnson.”

“I’ll make a common cause and an alliance with anybody in Congress who will try to save the Ukrainian people at this point,” the Maryland Democrat said.

The lawmakers are likely taking their cue from House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, who said recently that his caucus would be willing to support Johnson if he brought the aid package up for a vote.

“It does seem to me,” Jeffries told The New York Times in late February, “based on informal conversations, that were Speaker Johnson to do the right thing relative to meeting the significant national security needs of the American people by putting it on the floor for an up-or-down vote, there will be a reasonable number of people in the House Democratic Caucus who will take the position that he should not fall as a result.”

Johnson has previously refused to consider the aid package because it does not include regulations for the U.S.-Mexico border that he considers strict enough. But in recent days, he privately told some Democrats that he would prioritize foreign aid next and would put a Ukraine aid bill to a vote after Easter recess, according to Politico.

Other Democrats, including Tom Suozzi and Jared Moskowitz, indicated Friday that they would back Johnson’s efforts to remain speaker. Moskowitz made it clear on social media that he does not actually support Johnson but just wants to ensure that Greene does not “take over the people’s House.”

Greene revealed Friday that she had filed a motion to vacate Johnson, just moments before the House voted to approve a $1.2 trillion omnibus spending bill. The Georgia Republican, who just four months ago backed Johnson for speaker, said she wanted him to view her motion as a “warning.” But Greene said she intended to bring the motion to a vote, she just wasn’t sure when that would happen.