Marjorie Taylor Greene is currently floating the idea of issuing a motion to vacate the Speakership of Mike Johnson in the House of Representatives in US Congress. This would be the second such motion in roughly 6 months, after former Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted last year.

I only have a passing familiarity with US politics, but it appears to me like regardless of whether House Democrats vote in favor or against vacating Mike Johnson's speakership, they can spin it as a political win regardless. If they vote in favor, they show that Republicans are unable to govern, that the Republican party has succumbed yet again to infighting, and there might even be Republican Representatives who are fed up with this situation and resign in disgust over how their party is internally divided, giving Democrats a chance to win the house. On the other hand, if they vote against vacating the chair, they show that they're willing to put country before politics, they humiliate Marjorie Taylor-Greene, and it would be a bargaining chip with Mike Johnson regarding other important legislation.

As I said, I'm not that familiar with US Congress and the politics involved, so I might be mistaken in some aspects of this. What political motives could impact the decision that Democrats make?

  • The gist of the answers to the previous question about potentially voting for/against McCarthy should probably also apply here. One needs to take into account that nobody can look into the future. It will always be some sort of judgement call, which could sometimes go in one direction and another time in another direction. Commented Apr 21 at 20:26

5 Answers 5


Rep. Tom Suozzi, D-NY, is on record supporting Mike Johnson for Speaker, if there is a motion to vacate. From CNN, on 3/22:

RAJU: Congressman Suozzi, Democrat of New York, will you vote to keep Mike Johnson in as speaker?

SUOZZI: Yes I will.

RAJU: Why is that?

SUOZZI: Because it’s absurd that he’s getting kicked out for doing the right thing, getting the -- keeping the government open. It has two thirds support of the Congress, and the idea that he would be kicked out by these jokers is absurd.

RAJU: Will there be other Democrats who join you, you think?

SUOZZI: I hope so.

He also wrote an editorial for The Wall Street Journal earlier this week:

... Meanwhile, Democrats can’t just wait for Republicans to work with us. That’s why when Mrs. Greene introduced her proposal to remove Speaker Johnson, I announced that I will support him if he does his job.

Democrats must offer Speaker Johnson our votes to save democracy in Ukraine and here. We can’t let our partisan instincts get in our way. We must work with Republicans to disarm Mr. Putin’s puppet, get a vote to support Ukraine, and defeat Russian disinformation. Our democracy is at stake.

Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-FL, has also stated he won't vote in favor of vacating. Via twitter:

I do not support Speaker Johnson but I will never stand by and let MTG to take over the people’s House.

He's also offered up some interesting amendments so maybe you can consider "personal animosity" as the motive.

  • This just in "In an extraordinary move, more Democrats (165) supported the measure than Republicans (151)." That refers to some procedural thing to bring the aid votes to the floor. So, for now, Democrats [probably, still] consider Johnson more useful than not. youtube.com/watch?v=8i63VZw216k Commented Apr 19 at 18:28

There are several reasons to vote against the Motion to Vacate

  1. It would stymie the House in an election year. As much as nobody wants to admit it, the ousting of McCarthy was something of a surprise. The Democrats went along with the vote, likely figuring it would fail (nothing like that had ever happened in the House). There also wasn't much political pressure in late 2023. The largest problem for Democrats right now is they just don't have enough votes on the horizon to put Jeffries in the Speakership. Even if they did, there are some vacant seats that will stay GOP (like McCarthy's CA-20, set to hold a runoff in May). As fractious as the GOP is, there isn't much to be gained in trying to fight another long battle to install another Speaker, as they did with Johnson. Remember, the House must have a Speaker to conduct business, and Democrats like to pass bills as much as Republicans.

  2. It would help Marjorie Taylor Greene, someone many Democrats revile (as noted in another question)

    [If] Marjorie Taylor Greene, someone who wants states to secede from the union, brings up a motion to vacate, I will not support her doing that under any circumstance. Democrats don't even let her rename post offices. I'm not going to let her make a motion to vacate.

  3. Johnson is being "motioned" for working with Democrats to pass bills the Democrats as a whole want. The main trigger here is Ukraine aid, something the GOP is balking at

    Greene has hammered Johnson for sealing spending deals with Biden, for opposing a new warrant requirement surrounding the government’s surveillance powers, and for championing the $60 billion in new Ukraine aid, without ensuring it will be accompanied by tougher security measures at the U.S.-Mexico border — an early demand of the Speaker that he abandoned this week in announcing his four-vote strategy for securing foreign aid.


One thing to keep in mind is the context: passing an aid package for Ukraine and Israel is what is triggering this vacating theater.

Conservative Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) is joining Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) in her efforts to oust Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) after the Louisiana Republican announced plans to bring multiple foreign aid bills to the floor.

If the Dems support Johnson against MTG, both sides may get that aid. If they don't: back to the drawing board (and it's been 6 months to get this far with Johnson).

Is embarrassing the Reps through someone as already fundamentally, inherently, embarrassing as MTG worth the drama? And it may come back and bite them too: Congress is already very low on the popularity totem pole, due to their deadlocks, so if the Dems are seen to have caused this, despite preliminary thinking not to play this game? Maybe not so great.

One can only hope.

p.s. In the past, budget shenanigans, when they really got to a head with shutdowns, tended to hurt the Reps in the short term. Voters are not totally stupid.

U.S. House speaker gains Dem backing for foreign aid plan, as far-right Republicans seethe • Ohio Capital Journal

Democrats warm to GOP leadership Numerous Democrats indicated in interviews Thursday that they’re willing to help House GOP leaders move past the procedural hurdle of approving a rule in order to move onto final votes on the emergency aid.

Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin said it’s “paramount” that Congress pass assistance for Ukraine after months of inaction and “dislodge all of the dysfunction over on the GOP side.”

Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Brendan Boyle said Johnson deserves credit for the comments made during a Wednesday press conference about doing what’s best and not thinking about how it might affect his role as speaker.

  • Of course, there's always the option of quietly hinting to MTG that most or all Dems will support her motion just as soon as Johnson outlives his usefulness (i.e. the next time he does something newsworthy that isn't favorable to Democrats). I'm not sure if they're explicitly planning to do that, but it would seem like a fairly obvious play, and some future conflict with Republican leadership is more or less inevitable. It also has the virtue that you can slip exactly the same hint to Johnson, and thereby prolong his spirit of cooperation.
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 21 at 21:51

There is a third possibility for the Democrats in a confidence vote: abstain. As the majority of Republicans would probably vote for Johnson, this action would result in him keeping his position. That is a prerequisite for some important goals being achieved, such as the long-delayed aid package to Ukraine being approved.

As a matter of public perception, abstaining would help the Democrats avoid both the accusations they would get if they voted for Johnson, that is, of actively supporting a speaker who is, after all, a pretty right-wing character; and those they would get if they voted against him, that is, of participating in pushing the US Congress into even deeper chaos and insanity.



What motives would Democrats have to vote either in favor or against vacating Mike Johnson's speakership if a motion to vacate were voted on?

Votes for speaker are typically not left up to the individuals' congressmen. The decision of the minority party rather reflects the strategy of the party's leadership. Congressmen who do not tow the party line and break party lines have been subject to the toughest punishments, historically speaking. I remember Democrat from Ohio Jim Traficant who voted for Republican Denny Hastert for speaker in 2001. The Dems stripped him of his committee assignment, one of which where he was the ranking member.

Anyway Having said that.

The reason why the Dems leadership would support Johnson are obvious. Not having a foreign aid package, border legislation, budget are all horrific national problems are positive things for the country. If Johnson continues to work across the isle and the Dems decide they can work with him they might just decide to support him.

The reason why the Dems leadership would not support Johnson are probable more attractive to Democratic Leadership. The GOP house is in disarray and at war with itself. The whack-ah-doodle Putin, Jewish space laser wing of the party is in full bloom. Conventional wisdom would suggest when your opposition is self-destructing don't interfere. There is precedent in both parties while in the minority to let the majority self-destruct.

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