House Democratic leaders announce they would save Johnson if threat to oust comes to floor

Democratic leaders said they would vote to table a motion to vacate Johnson.

April 30, 2024, 1:53 PM

House Democratic leadership announced on Tuesday that if a motion to vacate Speaker Mike Johnson is brought to the House floor for a vote, they would vote to table the effort -- effectively saving the speaker from ouster. Less than an hour later, Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene indicated that she will trigger a move to oust Johnson to put members on the record.

Greene introduced a motion to vacate the speaker's chair last month. Her push to remove Johnson came after a vote to fund the government to prevent a shutdown -- which Johnson needed Democratic votes to pass.

"We will vote to table Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's Motion to Vacate the Chair. If she invokes the motion, it will not succeed," the leaders wrote in a statement.

This means Democrats have now put it on the record that they would save Johnson if a motion to vacate is brought to the floor for a vote.

Greene -- who had not provided a timeline or any insight into if she will make the motion to vacate resolution privileged, meaning it would force the House to take it up at some point -- signaled in a post on X shortly after the Democrats' announcement that she will force a floor vote to remove Johnson from the speakership.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene departs Capitol Hill following a vote on April 19, 2024 in Washington, DC.
Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

"Mike Johnson is officially the Democrat Speaker of the House. Here is their official endorsement of his Speakership," Rep. Greene said in a statement on X, citing the statement from House Democratic leadership.

Greene said he should "resign" or "switch parties."

"If the Democrats want to elect him Speaker (and some Republicans want to support the Democrats' chosen Speaker), I'll give them the chance to do it. I'm a big believer in recorded votes because putting Congress on record allows every American to see the truth and provides transparency to our votes. Americans deserve to see the Uniparty on full display. I'm about to give them their coming out party!" Greene wrote on X.

Greene ignored reporters' questions regarding her motion to vacate effort. Greene did say that "plans are still developing" when asked about her timeline with the motion to vacate.

Johnson reacted to the Democrats' statement Tuesday morning, denying that he cut a deal with the Democrats to save his job.

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) speaks during a press conference at Columbia University on April 24, 2024 in New York City.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

"The first I have heard of it," Johnson said when asked about the statement. "Look, I have to do my job."

Johnson said "no" when asked if he spoke to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries about receiving Democratic support if a motion to vacate is brought to the floor for a vote -- and if that conversation happened before allowing votes on a $95 billion foreign aid package, a move that earned him bipartisan praise.

"I've not requested assistance from anyone ... I'm not focused on that at all. I focused on getting the job done and getting the legislation passed," Johnson said.

"No, there's no deals at all," he added.

Pressed on if he would be comfortable leading Congress by having support of Democrats -- a tactic that landed his predecessor Kevin McCarthy in hot water and eventually contributed to his ouster -- Johnson said he aims to work with all in the House while maintaining his conservative values.

"Listen, I am the Speaker of the House -- serves the whole body. I'm a conservative Republican, a lifelong conservative Republican. That's what my philosophy is. That's what my record is and will continue to govern on those principles. I mean, you know, you hope you have the support of everyone the entire country," he said.

While Greene pushes to oust Johnson, many Republicans tell ABC News that they are not on board with her effort. Greene's effort comes in an election year, when many Republicans do not seem interested in engaging in another speakership battle that could project uncertainty in their conference.

Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina said he has not heard of any movement on her motion vacate effort.

"I am not going to support it. She can pull it -- it's her right -- but I am not going to support it," Rep. Norman said.

Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee said, "I don't think it will happen" and "I don't think it's a good idea to move it forward" when pressed on a motion to vacate.

Rep. Kat Cammack of Florida said the motion to vacate effort is "dead."

"There is no will to do the motion to vacate," Cammack said. "People recognize that it is not what we need at this time. So yeah, we are focused on winning."

Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska said he would oppose the ouster of Johnson from the House's top job.

"I am going to oppose it," Bacon said. "I think Speaker Johnson is doing a great job."