House Speaker on Vote to Vacate: “I didn’t think they would go through with it”

Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once quipped that, “Nothing in life is more exhilarating as to be shot at without result.” U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) can probably relate.

Johnson decisively survived Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) Motion to Vacate his seat earlier this week with the assistance of most Democrats in Congress.

In an interview on Politico’s Playbook Deep Dive podcast, Johnson admitted that he, “didn’t think they would go through with it,” referring to fellow GOP colleagues who voted against tabling the Motion to remove him as Speaker.

Johnson’s new lease on life as the Speaker was threatened by members of the GOP Conservative Caucus for his role in pushing through a $1.2 trillion dollar Omnibus spending bill that avoided a government shutdown, and for passing controversial funding aid packages for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

Ironically, these actions are what earned Johnson the vocal support of the Republican and Democratic majority that now comprise a kind of Uniparty in Congress.

But Johnson’s newfound respect as Speaker of the House may have a limited shelf life.

Democrats who rallied to protect him from removal as Speaker now have leverage that they didn’t have before. It’s reasonable to conclude that the time isn’t far off when they’ll be asking Johnson to return the favor they’ve done him.

Johnson is also vulnerable to challenges from within the GOP the next time there is an election for the Speaker and only if House Republicans are able to maintain their razor thin majority. Rep. Andy Ogles (R-TN) told Politico, “You’re going to see … multiple folks throw their names in the hat.”

Another factor that could affect Johnson’s prospects to retain the Speaker’s gavel is the upcoming November election. If Republicans lose their slim majority in the House, Johnson will likely be shown the door.

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Photo: WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 06: Speaker of House Mike Johnson (R-LA) calls on reporters during a news conference following the weekly GOP caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on February 06, 2024 in Washington, DC. Johnson said earlier this week that immigration legislation negotiated by a bipartisan group of senators is "worse than expected" and "dead on arrival" in the House. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)