Johnson Has One Foot on a Banana Peel As GOP Caucus Rebels Against Foreign Aid Bill

Would someone please offer Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) a last cigarette? Or, if he doesn’t smoke, at least offer to tie the blindfold.

The hourglass is emptying faster as the sands of time begin to run out for the speaker’s tenure in office. Mike Johnson is a nice man and a good Christian, but he is unable to navigate his way through the minefield that is the new politics in Congress.

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This is a “take no prisoners” Congress, especially when it comes to the prospect of having to cooperate with Democrats to get something done. Nothing short of total surrender will be accepted as adequate. That “total surrender” also applies to the Republicans who want absolute obedience and total submission from all other Republicans.

That’s why the GOP is about to pull the rug out from underneath their second speaker of the House in less than a year and force another vote to confirm… someone.

And that’s the problem. There’s no one else in the House who could serve as speaker. 

Rep. Troy E. Nehls (R-Texas), a member of the House Freedom Caucus, asked, “If it’s not him, then who can manage this conference?” 

It’s not that there’s a lack of candidates. It’s a plum job, and many would love to have it, even though the problems are immense. 

“If we’re going to identify a problem with Mike Johnson, I understand. But you have to have a solution,” he said. “There is not anybody in that room I just walked out of that can manage this conference.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-Ga.) has already offered a motion to vacate. And with a two-seat majority, Johnson’s speakership hangs by a very slender thread.

Someone just cut the string.

Washington Post:

During a weekly Republican meeting Tuesday morning, Rep. Thomas Massie (Ky.) upped the ante when he stood and called on Johnson to resign after announcing that he had signed on to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s plan to depose him, known as a motion to vacate.

That means that if Democrats chose not to rescue Johnson, Republicans would need just a simple majority to oust their second speaker in six months, causing the House to descend further into chaos during an election year when their slender grasp on the majority is at stake. Republicans appear seriously divided not only about the possible effort to eject Johnson, but also on the foreign aid bills, especially the Ukraine aid that a strident faction staunchly opposes.

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“The motion is going to get called, okay? Does anybody doubt that? The motion will get called, and then he’s going to lose more votes than Kevin McCarthy,” Massie said, referring to the previous Republican speaker. McCarthy lost eight GOP votes while colleagues told him to take a hike. It took three weeks and several candidates before Johnson was sworn in as the new speaker.

There are few Republicans who want a repeat of that mess, but that’s what they’re going to get unless… unless the Democrats come to Johnson’s rescue.

What was unthinkable a few months ago has now become a stark reality. Johnson wants to bring a foreign aid bill to the floor that would supply Israel with $14 billion and Ukraine with $60 billion. There’s also additional humanitarian aid for Gaza and a security package for Taiwan. 

The speaker wants four separate votes, ostensibly to give roughly half of the Republican caucus the chance to show their support for Israel while voting against Ukraine aid. A large number of Democrats want to vote for Ukraine aid but against Israel aid.

But the GOP hardliners don’t want a vote on Ukraine aid at all because they know it will pass with ease. So the threat to oust Johnson is growing.

But the Democrats see an opportunity in a vote to oust Johnson. They can play at being the adults in the room as Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries would allow some Democrats to vote to keep Johnson in his speaker’s chair. 

What would Jeffries want from Johnson in return? It might be a price that Johnson is unwilling to meet. That would mean Johnson is gone, and the foreign aid bill is dead.

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There’s a chance that most Republicans are tired of the chaos, tired of the intra-party warfare, and would vote to keep Jonson in office. But Johnson’s margin of safety is so slim that it would only take two Republicans voting against him to blow up the House and prove once again that the Republican Party is too dysfunctional to govern.

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