Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) came out Thursday in opposition to the current rules on the motion to vacate that threatens to end his speakership, lamenting he does not have the votes to change the rules at this time.

Johnson’s carefully worded statement stopped short of outright calling for a rule change that could save his gavel, but he made clear he opposed the current rules and understands “the importance of that idea” of changing them.

“Since the beginning of the 118th Congress, the House rule allowing a Motion to Vacate from a single member has harmed this office and our House majority,” Johnson posted to his official X account. “Recently, many members have encouraged me to endorse a new rule to raise this threshold. While I understand the importance of that idea, any rule change requires a majority of the full House, which we do not have. We will continue to govern under the existing rules.”

Rep. Thomas Massie pointed out Johnson’s misleading statement, responding to it on social media.

“The Speaker tried to change the rules to eliminate the motion to vacate but he didn’t have the votes today,” Massie posted on X.

Breitbart News asked Johnson’s office if he plans to change the motion to vacate rules once those changes have his support – even if a majority of Republicans oppose them – and if he would commit to not doing so but did not receive a response.

Republicans argued on the House floor Thursday morning about changing the rule. With a large bloc of establishment Republicans clearly supporting restoring the Speaker Nancy Pelosi-era rule that would weaken conservative opposition to Johnson’s agenda, Johnson’s statement clearly asserts not enough Democrats support changing the rules at this time.

It is perplexing why Democrats would now oppose changing a rule they unanimously voted against in January 2023. That vote on the House rules package for the new Congress altered the Pelosi-era motion to vacate, restoring it to the historical threshold whereby a single member can file a motion to vacate. Pelosi, to protect her leadership power and ensure all her Democrats fell in line, had raised the threshold just a few years earlier.

With conservatives objecting to the package, Johnson will need Democrat support to bring forward the rule to allow his foreign aid package with tens of billions for Ukraine to come to the floor (somewhat confusingly, this is a rule from the House Rules Committee governing legislation brought to the floor, not a rule governing broader House operations like the rule prescribing the motion to vacate). But as Breitbart News has extensively reported, it is highly unusual for the minority party to vote for a procedural rule brought forward by the majority party, even if the minority party supports the underlying legislation.

It is widely speculated that Democrats will seek concessions from Johnson to vote for the rule allowing his massive Ukraine package to come to the floor, which cannot pass without Democrat votes.

Democrats, by withholding support for a rules change they want but that would save Johnson’s job, can exert maximum leverage on Johnson.

Breitbart asked Johnson if he and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) or anyone on his behalf had been in contact on the rules change, particularly why Democrats seem to be withholding support for a rules change they indeed support, but Breitbart did not receive a response.

Breitbart also asked if altering the motion to vacate rules is part of negotiations with Democrats to pass the rule for the foreign aid package (or achieve any other priority of Speaker Johnson’s), if that rule change would emerge as a negotiating bargaining chip, as well as if Speaker Johnson would commit to not packaging a motion to vacate rules change that could save his job alongside a legislative rule or underlying bill, like the foreign aid package.

Johnson’s office did not respond.

Bradley Jaye is a Capitol Hill Correspondent for Breitbart News. Follow him on X/Twitter at @BradleyAJaye.