Mike Johnson came to help Ukraine. Will the Democrats come to him?

Mike Johnson's speaker was heading towards this crucial moment.

On Saturday, after months of hesitation, the House of Representatives finally agreed to provide aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. Aid to each of these countries — provided in different forms — was passed individually, with a complex Venn diagram of lawmakers coming together on each bill.

But there was one thing consistent throughout all the bills: Republican opposition.

The Israeli bill was approved by a vote of 366 to 58, with 193 Republicans and 173 Democrats in favor of the bill, and 21 Republicans and 37 Democrats opposed.

The Taiwan bill was approved by a vote of 385 to 34, with only progressive Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) present. All 34 votes against the bill came from Republicans.

But even more troubling for Johnson was that the Ukraine aid measure passed by a vote of 311 to 112, with all 210 Democrats present voting in favor of the bill, and all 112 no votes coming from the GOP. As the bill passed, Democrats on the House floor waved Ukrainian flags and chanted in solidarity with the US ally. They tried to hand the flags over to the Republicans, but only a few would accept.

After the vote, conservative Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) told Democrats to “put those damn flags down.”

(All of the bills will be combined together, including one mandating the sale of TikTok and other national security priorities, before the package is sent to the Senate for a single up-or-down vote.)

The Ukrainian aid overshadowed Johnson's entire six-month presidency. It may also represent the end.

A few days before Johnson assumed the position of Speaker of Parliament, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky assumed the presidency of Parliament Congress begged for more munitions To defend itself from the brutal Russian invasion. The situation seemed to have become very urgent, and Congress was in a position to act. Hamas had just attacked Israel earlier in the month, and there was a real desire to show support for the US ally, which had not even begun its aggressive bombing campaign yet.

Naturally, congressional leaders saw an opportunity to combine aid to Ukraine and Israel, bringing two important priorities together to win support from lawmakers who may have been hesitant about one or the other.

But Johnson had only just begun his position as speaker. He did not want to anger some Republicans who were vehemently opposed to spending another dime on Ukraine, let alone the facts about what the aid looked like or where it was really being spent.

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Johnson — a little-known, unpopular conservative — was suddenly sitting atop a divided GOP conference, delicately balancing the desires of a disparate group of lawmakers. Inaction became a hallmark of his speaker.

But over the past six months, as Johnson tried to find a functional GOP majority that could override any Republican priority, he had to come to terms with a harsh reality: There is no Republican majority.

As for any bill Republicans want to pass without Democratic support, there seem to be at least a few Republican lawmakers — because it goes too far, or because it doesn't go far enough, or just because they're obsessed with other things — who have rejected Go with the team

Johnson had to face the uncomfortable reality that if he was going to approve a bill as president, he would have to do so with Democratic votes.

Now, as Republicans line up against him to remove him from office, he faces an even starker reality: To remain Speaker of the House, he needs Democratic votes.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) introduced a motion to remove Johnson about a month ago, and since then, far-right Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) have joined her. . The trio suggested that more Johnson critics would come out of hiding once Johnson passes aid to Ukraine. (The truth is, they don't even need more Republicans to vote against him, if Democrats also vote against Johnson, as they did in every round of voting when Kevin McCarthy was president.)

All Johnson did was give the aid to Ukraine to a vote, with the bill passing overwhelmingly. But the modern Republican Party has come to expect the speaker to prevent certain party priorities from getting up or down. It's one thing to give legislation that will fail to be voted on on the House floor, but it's heresy to give something to a vote on Actually pass– That is, if a small conservative minority believes that it is not conservative enough.

The only thing Johnson violated in the Ukraine vote — ever so slightly — was the so-called Hastert Rule, named after former GOP Chairman Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), who was later convicted of sexually abusing boys decades before his time in The election. Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

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Hastert initiated a “majority majority” rule to put bills on the floor, a standard that Hastert himself broke dozens of times while in charge.

Regardless, GOP spokesmen have generally tried to adhere to this standard (although every Republican president since has violated the rule). But if there is one argument that conservatives angered by Johnson and the vote on aid to Ukraine can make, it is this one.

But Johnson's patience with those rules has finally run out. And he put his foot down, He spoke publicly about his belief that it was the right thing to doHe said he was prepared to let the chips fall as much as possible.

He introduced four separate foreign aid bills — which also included unprecedented restrictions on TikTok — in the name of iconic World War II-era British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, calling out the inability of Churchill's predecessor, Neville Chamberlain, who famously appeased Adolf Hitler.

Johnson knew he would face backlash from Republicans over this decision, and he seems fully prepared to live with the consequences of his actions.

But just as the Ukraine decision may break Johnson, it may also make him so.

Former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) referred the matter to Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) when asked if Democrats should bail out Johnson. But if there's any indication of what she thinks Democrats should do, she said Johnson took the House to a “historic place” despite the objections of its members.

She added that the proposal to impeach Johnson “disregards any respect for the institution, because you should be able to resolve your differences.”

“The institution really needs respect,” Pelosi told The Daily Beast. “If people are doing something wrong, the chair should be vacated, but if there is a difference of opinion, that is democracy.”

At least two Democrats – Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) and Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) said they would not vote to impeach Johnson if Republicans intended to throw him overboard over the vote in Ukraine.

“You have to prove that this anarchist group does not have the power they think they have,” Susi told The Daily Beast. “We can't let them punish him because he did the right thing.”

The top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee – Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) – too Shown Democrats will have Johnson's back.

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Former Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said after the vote that “no one should punish the Speaker for doing the right thing.”

“The right thing is what 350 people voted for, give or take,” he said. “But I think this was a very positive day for our country, a positive day for the House of Representatives, and certainly a great day for Ukraine,” he added.

While Democrats line up to defend the Speaker, Johnson is in effect ceding power to Jeffries. This has always been part of the calculus of other embattled GOP speakers; If you're relying on Democratic votes to save your position as president, you're no longer actually a Republican speaker.

This may make Johnson's position unacceptable – especially in the long term – but for now, there are Republicans rallying around him.

Former speaker candidate, Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), told The Daily Beast that if Johnson relies on Democrats to stay in power, so be it.

“There is no one in the Republican Conference today who can get 100 percent of the Republican Conference vote,” Scott said. “And if they oust him, by definition, they have given Democrats control over who the next Speaker of the House is.”

Other GOP members hope Johnson's right wing hates him less than the eight Republican insurgents who ousted McCarthy.

“I think they don't trust him as much as they don't trust McCarthy,” Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) told The Daily Beast. “But he was prone to fits and starts.”

For now, the proposal to vacate the chair hangs over Johnson's head, and it is not clear how many Republicans will support the attempt to remove him, or how many Democrats will save him.

It's entirely possible that the actual numbers mean a lot. Johnson may be able to hold on to some important elements if some Democrats — or perhaps all Democrats — back off from voting to impeach him. That way, no Democrat would have to actually vote for Johnson, and it wouldn't be clear how close his critics came to actually unseating him.

But either way, in this scenario, the message would be the same: Johnson is Speaker because of the Democrats. Democrats — or Republicans — are unlikely to forget that.

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