Johnson Seeking Democrat Support As Speakership Under Fire

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is facing significant backlash from the conservative wing of his party, as America First and Freedom Caucus Republicans threaten to oust him following his support over the last week for billions of dollars in new foreign aid packages. The House approved nearly $61 billion in aid to Ukraine last week, a move that has greatly troubled critical figures in the Republican Party, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ).

Greene, who has been vocal about her dissatisfaction, said this weekend on Fox News Sunday that Johnson’s actions amounted to “working for the Democrats” and indicated that a motion to remove him could be imminent. “It’s coming regardless of what Mike Johnson decides to do,” Greene said.

Johnson is now dependent on an unlikely lifeline from House Democrats. Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) said all House members now recognize that Johnson is essentially a “lame duck” Speaker with no chance of winning the leadership position in January when the next Congress is seated. However, Moskowitz argues Johnson is now dependent on Democratic support if he expects to hold power through 2024.

The controversy stems from Johnson’s perceived departure from the America First principles that put him in office. His departure from his earlier promises to protect the southern border before allowing any new money to go to Ukraine has won him bipartisan support. Still, it has alienated a significant portion of his base, who see his actions as betraying conservative values.

Despite the internal conflict, some neoconservatives, like Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), House Foreign Affairs Committee chair, believe Johnson has enhanced his reputation by doing “the right thing.”

The potential ousting of Johnson mirrors the earlier displacement of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), which left the House in a prolonged state of disarray last fall. Democrats, like Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), argue that stability under Johnson’s leadership is preferable to the chaos that might ensue if he were removed. “He deserves to keep his job till the end of his term,” Khanna said.

The internal strife within the Republican Party reflects a broader ideological struggle between traditional conservatism and the emergent nationalist-populist wave. Johnson’s willingness to engage with Democrats and moderate Republicans on foreign aid signifies a potential shift in the GOP’s strategic alignments, which may recalibrate its traditional stances.

Democrats, by showing readiness to support Johnson, are not just playing politics but are strategically positioning themselves as stabilizers in a tumultuous political landscape. This support could be a calculated move to maintain a semblance of order or further deepen the ideological divisions within the Republican Party, leveraging these for electoral advantages in this year’s crucial elections.