How MTG’s threats to boot Johnson could make it easier for him to cut a deal with Democrats

If Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) moves forward with her plan to remove House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), it could give cover to House Democrats to save him and get a major win in the process.

The threat to try and remove the speaker through a motion to vacate could make striking a deal with those Democrats even easier as Johnson considers bringing a new Ukraine aid bill to the House floor after Congress returns from recess.

“[Greene] and maybe a few others have been sort of holding [the motion] over the speaker’s head like a sword of Damocles, threatening to use it,” former Republican congressional aide Daniel Vajdich told the Washington Post. “I, for one, actually, as a supporter of Ukraine assistance, hope that they do make use of it because it’s going to fail. And I think that that will then firm up the speaker’s position when it comes to putting these bills on the floor.”

Several Democrats have expressed a willingness to help Johnson survive the vote, especially if he does bring the Ukraine aid bill to the floor, but Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Jason Crow (D-CO) warned that saving Johnson would not be free.

“Speaker Johnson has been very clear that when we come back from recess, his intent is to put a vote on the floor,” Crow said. “I want to believe him. That is the right thing to do. That is what my Republican colleagues said he intends to do. And he has made those promises repeatedly knowing that people can file a motion to vacate. Democrats have to be willing to make a deal with Speaker Johnson to help get the votes across the board.”

The motion comes less than six months after Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) used the same move to oust former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in October after McCarthy made deals with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown. 

Greene’s threat comes after Johnson also pushed through his $1.2 trillion spending deal on Friday to try and keep the government funded. The eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy have not expressed support for using the same maneuver on Johnson.

“I’m not going to question her decision. I’m just not ready to support a motion to vacate,” Gaetz said of Greene.

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Greene has only filed the motion so far, which she called a “pink slip” and warning for the speaker, but has not given a timeline for when she would call for the vote.

“I don’t have a timeline,’ Greene said. “That will be a rolling issue that we’ll be judging and making decisions by.”

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