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MTG Is Coming for Mike Johnson – But the Democrats Have His Back

Can Marjorie Taylor Greene rally the troops, or will even her own party leave her hanging?

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has announced that she’s finally forcing a vote on her motion to vacate the House speaker’s chair … soon. The Georgia lawmaker first filed her motion to oust Mike Johnson (R-LA) after he helped pass the $1.2 trillion spending bill to keep the government rolling back in March. Now she plans to force the vote sometime in the coming week, but does she have the support she needs to take Johnson down?

An obstacle to her aspirations seems to be the support Johnson enjoys among House Democrats. A handful of Republicans have also made public remarks either defending the speaker or criticizing Greene – or both – making the motion to vacate seem destined to fail. But what price will Johnson, or his fellow Republicans, for that matter, pay for this help from across the aisle?

Will the Democrats Save Mike Johnson?

If the Democratic caucus voted against Johnson, as it did with Kevin McCarthy’s ouster as speaker, it would take just a handful of rebel Republicans to pluck the gavel from the current speaker’s grasp. But Democratic leaders took this option out of play.

“At this moment, upon completion of our national security work, the time has come to turn the page on this chapter of Pro-Putin Republican obstruction,” read a statement in late April by the three leading Democrats in the House, Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Katherine Clark (D-MA), and Pete Aguilar (D-CA). “We will vote to table Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Motion to Vacate the Chair. If she invokes the motion, it will not succeed.” While some Democrats might refuse to toe the party line and vote to oust Johnson for their own reasons, the majority are likely to follow their leaders in this, meaning that Johnson’s position as speaker of the House is safe – at least for now.

But what of his career in the broader sense? If a sizable group of Republicans vote to vacate the chair, there will certainly be those who say Johnson’s own party wanted him out, but the Democrats propped him up anyway – and the more Republicans that vote against Johnson, the worse that perception will be. And that isn’t the only way this can come back later to bite the speaker – or Republicans in general. By standing united behind Johnson, House Democrats get to campaign on both unity and bipartisanship. They will be able to tell voters they stood united while Republicans bickered among themselves, and they’ll get to say they were able to put people before politics and work across the aisle to get the work done and keep the wheels turning.

Indeed, Hakeem Jeffries has already started crafting this narrative on the Sunday shows. Speaking with CBS, he said:

“Even though we’re in the minority, we effectively have been governing as if we were in the majority because we continue to provide a majority of the votes necessary to get things done… Those are just the facts.

“It’s a difficult situation on the other side of the aisle, because many of my Republican colleagues are more interested in creating chaos, dysfunction, and extremism.”

New Banner Political Power PlaysSpeaker Johnson may come away from this vote looking rather blue to conservative voters if enough Republicans vote to vacate – but he and the rest of the GOP stand to lose the majority if Democrats manage to rally their base and convince enough independent voters that they are the more moderate, cooler heads in the room.

Republicans – Anything but Unified

The Democrats aren’t the only ones likely to protect Speaker Johnson; several Republicans have said they wouldn’t vote to vacate. Johnson himself has been both critical and dismissive of Greene’s threats, as might be expected, and Rep. Marc Molinaro of New York called the motion political theater, adding that “it’s time to move on and to move past this kind of nonsense.” Rep. Andy Ogles, a Tennessee Republican, called it a distraction and a mistake. Dan Crenshaw of Texas accused Greene of just looking for “her time in the spotlight,” calling the motion “one last ditch effort to get attention.” Rep. Bob Good of Virginia said his Peach State colleague isn’t “acting in the best interest of Donald Trump.”

Looking at the bigger picture, RNC Chair Michael Whatley is calling for party unity in opposition to Greene’s motion. “We need to flip the Senate, and we need to expand our majority in the House,” he said. “We’re not going to do that if we’re not unified.”

Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) called Greene’s attempt to remove Johnson as speaker disgusting. “Ninety-eight percent of us find it disgusting,” he said. “I just try to ignore it. I can’t help what she does. I think we’ll overwhelmingly oppose it, and I think even on the Democrat side, we’ll have a lot of support. We’re tired of the chaos. We’re tired of the anarchy.” Matt Gaetz of Florida wasn’t as critical of Greene as the others, but he did say that he didn’t think the chaos of another battle for the speakership would be good for the House or the party – especially this close to Election Day.

Outside of the House, GOP Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina called Ms. Greene “uninformed,” “a horrible leader,” and a “total waste of time.” He added: “She, not the Democrats, are the biggest risk to us getting back to a majority.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said her plan to oust Johnson is “utterly ridiculous” and warned that it might damage the Republican Party itself.

Could Bacon be on point with his 98% estimate? Perhaps – but then again, perhaps not. About half a dozen House Republicans have spoken out in criticism of the motion to vacate – and only two other GOP representatives, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Arizona’s Paul Gosar, have openly aligned with Greene. Out of 217 Republicans, that leaves a lot of undeclared intention to account for.

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