Updated Apr 18, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Mike Johnson pulls his punches on motion to vacate

House Speaker Mike Johnson returns to his office after the last votes of the day on April 18, 2024.

House Speaker Mike Johnson returns to his office after the last votes Thursday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

Ahead of weekend votes that will put his job on the line, House Speaker Mike Johnson has unleashed a mystery on Capitol Hill by declining to box out Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's effort to oust him over foreign aid.

Why it matters: Multiple House Republicans were surprised Johnson said he lacked the votes to change how many members it takes to bring up a motion to vacate.

  • Among moderates, the sentiment Thursday — without clear evidence of any ask — is that Democrats must have asked for more than Johnson was willing to give in exchange for their help to change the rule.
  • Johnson's office declined to comment.

The big picture: This saga is part of a pattern for Johnson that's frustrated even his most loyal supporters.

  • On Wednesday, Johnson boldly said he was willing to risk his job for Ukraine aid, and every member should get to vote.
  • Thursday, he said the Kevin McCarthy-era changes to the rules on ousting speakers were bad for the GOP and the speakership itself, but that he wouldn't put further tweaks to a vote because he didn't have a House majority to support that move.

What's next: Johnson will now attempt to push through a foreign aid package without a paired protection for his job, all but guaranteeing he'll face a leadership challenge in the coming days.

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