Democrats have become the most powerful minority in congressional history

News & Politics

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Sincerely,

Christopher Bedford

Congress returned to Washington this week a changed body. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.) had long struggled with a slim majority (whining about it is among his favorite party tricks), but after the foreign aid bill, he is now effectively the head of a center-left coalition — one that’s promised to protect him from being ousted by his own colleagues.

The irony is the deal has left him more secure in his job than he was at the start of April, but also less powerful. Meanwhile, far from complaining about razor-thin margins, Democrats have managed to turn out what may be the most powerful minority in congressional history.

Johnson is more secure in his job because he has the Democrats’ promised support for his leadership. Job security is his reward, after forcing his party and voters’ border security demands aside to pass the foreign aid bill. It’s unseemly, yes, and no one has any memory of such a public display of uniparty power, but it’s also reality.

Meanwhile, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Thomas Massie’s (R-Ky.) effort to oust him, expected as soon as Wednesday, is doomed (and could prove disastrous). If it was going to succeed, the Ukraine-aid fight was the moment. If they move forward now, while it’s virtually guaranteed to gain Republican votes, it’s also virtually guaranteed to fail — and likely further empower the Democrat minority.

First, some background: Although she remains fairly popular with the base, Greene is somewhat isolated in Congress, where she frayed relationships with liberal Republicans thanks to her conservative stances, burned bridges with conservative Republicans to curry favor with then-Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and then was left adrift after his ouster.

Popularity contests aside, Freedom Caucus members know the likeliest current alternative to Johnson is Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), whom they view as craftier — and therefore potentially more dangerous — than the relative novice strategist currently holding the gavel.

Most importantly, Democrats understand a weaker speaker plays into their hand and are eager to see it happen. Over the past few days, they’ve goaded Greene into making the motion in the Playbook newsletter, in the morning Punchbowl newsletter, and in the pages of the New York Times.

“Mike Johnson doesn’t need too many Democratic friends,” Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.)
told the Times. “[Greene] is one of the best things the speaker has going for him because so many people find her insufferable.”

Democrats know they have the votes to table Greene’s motion to vacate, stopping it procedurally before it even comes to a vote (and thereby saving themselves with their own voters from having to cast an actual vote for the ostensibly Republican speaker).

This means Johnson would survive even if every member of the Freedom Caucus were to join Greene and vote against him. While 40 or so Republican no votes won’t topple Johnson, they would publicly guarantee a real leadership challenge in January. Until then, the speaker could rest easy with his new pals.

The question, then, is what Johnson can accomplish with this new center-left coalition government. Much of the remainder of the House’s calendar is filled with messaging votes for the 2024 election, including the speaker’s new initiative of punishing elite universities for on-campus anti-Semitism. Most of the 112 Republicans who voted against his Ukraine bill will return to the fold for those.

Even the roughly three dozen conservative Freedom Caucus members most likely to force Johnson to dance with the dates he brought aren’t going to break on those sorts of votes. While personal and professional grudges can go a long way in Washington, it isn’t a good look to stand in the way of campaign messaging bills; it doesn’t matter that even the anti-Semitism effort won’t get a hearing in Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) Senate.

The real fight brewing is the 2025 budget. Johnson’s new Democratic friends will be eager to load an omnibus up with earmarks that will hamstring any future potential Trump administration, and Republican hawks are eager to help so long as they get more money for Ukraine and other war projects.

That sort of move would hobble former President Donald Trump’s first year in office, were he to win in November. With Johnson currently working overtime to show how close he is with the former president, Trump will be in a strong position to exert pressure to stop an omnibus from happening, should he choose to use political capital this way. Currently, however, he’s bogged down between Democrats’ lawfare and his need to campaign and raise money. If Democrats manage to further poison relations between conservative and liberal Republicans, it will play well to the omnibus crowd.

No matter what happens, the uniparty is the new normal. It’s just a matter of degree.

IN OTHER NEWS

Democrat judge gives Trump fine over gag order, threatens jail time.

New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan fined Trump the maximum allowed for nine violations of the gag order he imposed but worried the $1,000-an-incident max under state law was not high enough to deter the wealthy candidate. Merchan threatened jail time for future offenses.

At the same time, Merchan walked back threats to keep Trump in court during his son’s high school graduation.

While Merchan’s jail threat ups the ante and, if followed through, would fulfill a left-wing dream, thus far, Trump has benefited from Democratic lawfare overreach. His Georgia mug shot was a fundraising bonanza, and the imagery has entered popular culture.

Blaze News:Trump trial: Judge rules on alleged gag order violations, witnesses discuss Michael Cohen’s payment to Stormy Daniels

‘Columbia students invaded a campus hall overnight, barricading the doors and hanging an Intifada banner.’

Far from calming down, the situation on American campuses is growing worse, with liberal and Democratic calls for peace and order ignored and flouted by mobs of protesters, squatters, and masked vandals.

The White House has struggled to deal with the political ramifications, afraid of taking sides in what’s shaping up to be a Democratic Party civil war that will play out in the streets outside the Democratic National Convention in August. Chicago, of course, was the scene of the disastrous 1968 convention, which was beset with running street battles between police and anti-Vietnam War protesters.

Meanwhile, House Republicans are planning moves to deny public funding to universities allowing pro-Hamas mobs free rein. The vote likely won’t be entertained in the Democrat-controlled Senate but will add to the Democrats’ heartburn in November.

Blaze News:Pro-Palestinian protesters take over Columbia University academic building; officials close all school entry gates except one

Free Beacon: Columbia Students Storm University Building and Hoist Banner Calling for ‘Intifada’

Steven Spielberg rushes to White House’s messaging rescue

The legendary director is reportedly in early collaboration with the Democratic Party on planning what could be a disastrous Democratic National Convention.

Spielberg is a longtime partisan Democrat. During the 2012 election, he held the release of his movie “Lincoln” until after the November election. Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president and is a hero of both the country and the abolitionist movement.

After President Barack Obama was re-elected, Spielberg met with him to help
plan a “narrative” for his post-presidency.

Messaging has taken precedence over substance in almost every aspect of this administration, with proponents often blaming bad polling not on bad policy but on bad communication.

While the president last week signed a bill forcing TikTok to divest from its Chinese parent company, the White House has repeatedly collaborated with TikTok influencers to reach a young audience.

This weekend, TikTok influencer and OnlyFans porn star Farha Khalidi claimed the White House paid her to push “full on political propaganda” without disclosing that it was an advertisement, since “technically it’s not a product.”

Rewind to 2015 — MarketWatch: Steven Spielberg is helping Obama develop a post-White House ‘narrative’

Puck: Spielberg’s Biden Project

ZeroHedge: “Do Not Disclose This Is An Ad”: OnlyFans Creator Says Biden Admin Paid For “Full On Political Propaganda”

The fire rises: ‘General principles for resolving the campus takeovers sweeping America,’ Conundrum Cluster

Conundrum Cluster is a Substack largely devoted to how communists succeeded, and how they were defeated, in the 20th century. Much of the content is historical, but a century on and once again beset by violent left-wing mobs, there are valuable lessons to glean. The latest post looks at the mobs forming on college campuses — and the apolitical clarity necessary to maintain order.

“The issue at hand does not matter. Do not talk about whatever leftists are talking about. If you do this, you are allowing them to set and ultimately control the conversation. Antisemitism isn’t illegal. Protesting Israel isn’t illegal. This is not about Jews or Palestine or whatever. If you make your objection viewpoint-specific, you’re going to alienate not only moderates who might agree (at least abstractly) with the protests, but also anyone who is concerned with fairness. Conservatives are generally good-natured and fair people. They want an orderly society that’s governed by clear rules.

“If you look at the leaders of the protests on campus, these are clearly not people who you can work with. So, we’ve established that this is not personal or political. No one cares about what you’re saying. They’re not going to argue why you’re wrong or concede that ‘maybe you have a point even if I don’t like what you’re doing.’ That’s all irrelevant, what really matters is the behavior. Schools are for learning, not for whatever your political cause of the day is. Most students are not participants in these protests. It’s only a small minority who really feel passionately either way. Students have a right to an education and to enjoy a campus free of obnoxious behavior.

“Schools must make clear rules for student conduct that forbid vandalism, camping, demonstrating outside of approved zones, obstructing public areas, loud disruptions, and any other kind of behavior where, if it were to be caught on video, people could clearly articulate what was really at issue. Make this widely known. Posters, public announcements, emails, etc. It should never be mysterious what the rules of the road are on campus …”

Read more from Conundrum Cluster at Blaze News: “Political change in an era of massive psychic damage.”

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