How House Speaker Mike Johnson handles the Ukraine funding issue could determine whether he is removed from office – Top Stories (Trending Perfect)


Days after a right-wing extremist alerted him to his speakership, Mike Johnson laid out his strategy using a key — and perhaps surprising — source: controversial Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, the architect of the latest attempt to remove a speaker.

Gaetz, who has made clear he is firmly in Johnson's corner, advised the rookie speaker during a recent phone call to put some conservative victories on the board over the next few weeks as he weathers the threat of a potential election. Motion to vacate the speaker's chairAccording to sources familiar with the conversation.

“I gave the speaker some unsolicited advice. That we should get into fighting mode. I was very pleased with the way the speaker took that advice.” “The Speaker wants to put victories on the board for House Republicans, and we better start doing so.” “Doing that. … I’m glad the Speaker didn’t move on to the additional $95 billion that the Senate passed for Ukraine, and I think he’s charting a better path on this issue as we speak.”

As president, Johnson has an arsenal of tools at his disposal to placate his right flank, which has been angry about the recent spending deal between the two parties. Place it on the floor of the house. But whether or not Johnson keeps his boss's gavel may depend on how he handles the following divisive policy issue: Financing Ukraine's war against Russia.

Asked whether he would change his mind about supporting Johnson if the speaker brought up a bill for Ukraine that wasn't paid for by spending cuts, Gaetz said: “If there's no compensation we'll be really disappointed.” I think we need to not spend deficit to finance Ukraine. I also think we need to prioritize our borders. “I believe Speaker Johnson shares that view.”

While GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia officially filed for eviction before the recess, she has yet to take the necessary step to make it happen. In effect forcing a vote on the resolution, keeping the threat in its back pocket for now. Allies close to Johnson do not believe Greene would actually follow through, and even if she did, they believe she would not find much support on either side of the aisle for such a move.

Johnson spoke publicly about Greene's push to oust him as speaker for the first time on Sunday, calling it a “distraction from our mission” and saying he planned to meet her as early as this week.

“I think all my other colleagues recognize that this is a distraction from our mission. Again, the mission is to save the republic,” Johnson told Fox News.

“Marjorie is a friend,” Johnson added, noting that the two exchanged text messages until Sunday.

“She's very disappointed, for example, about the recent appropriations bills. Guess what? Me too. This is not the best legislation that you and I and Marjorie could have crafted if we had the ability to do it differently,” Johnson said.

01:23- Source: CNN

See what Greene said after filing a motion on March 22 to remove Speaker Johnson

But considering The ever-shrinking Republican majority in the House of RepresentativesAnd with Green's unpredictable nature and the shocking manner in which former Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted, Johnson also cannot leave anything to chance. People who have spoken to the House speaker in recent days say he is keenly aware that the evacuation proposal looms as he makes key decisions on aid to Ukraine, which could determine the course of his political career — whether that be in the near term or more long-term. Over the two-week Easter weekend, Johnson was quietly working with key aides to chart the course of his Ukraine strategy.

One GOP lawmaker, disappointed by the spending package, told CNN: “He has to consolidate (support) after the budget debacle.” “It was a terrible deal.”

Democrats are signaling they will bail out Johnson if he passes a Ukraine bill they can support. But if he passes a bill that is narrower than their demands, or includes new border restrictions, he risks alienating Democrats and right-wing Republicans who oppose a $1 increase for Ukraine. In addition, adding spending cuts to offset the Ukraine package — as Gates and other hardliners want — would generate intense Democratic opposition.

“My advice to Mike is to start with the American people here at home and work from there. Don’t start in Ukraine and work that way,” said GOP Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, who added that he had been in “constant communication” with the Speaker and his team.

Roy, one of the harshest critics of the bipartisan spending bill, did not say whether he would support Greene's efforts to oust Johnson.

“Right now, we have to go back and bring Republicans together to point out what our radical progressive Democratic colleagues are doing and present an actual competing vision,” he said.

Meanwhile, Greene is doing some strategizing of her own. It is working with a small group of allies to gauge where members stand, according to a lawmaker familiar with the talks.

“People are talking about it,” the MP said.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia speaks to reporters outside the U.S. Capitol on March 22, 2024, in Washington, D.C.

On the day Greene filed her motion against Johnson, GOP Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky told CNN that Greene was in no rush to act.

“We should now be able to start finding a replacement and still conduct investigations and continue our work,” Massey told CNN last week.

But he did not say whether he supported ousting Johnson: “There is no point in answering that question.”

While Greene has been publicly criticizing the spokeswoman on social media over the past few days, sources say she is keeping her actual plan close to the chest and only trusts a few key allies.

While Greene and her allies have slowly begun to inch closer to their colleagues, key members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, including those who have been supporting McCarthy's impeachment, are not indicating the same desire to oust Johnson.

Republican Rep. Bob Good of Virginia, who heads the right-wing group and was one of eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy, told CNN: “Nobody cares what Marjorie Taylor Greene says or thinks. It is a one-man show. She is dazzling and wants attention. “She has a frosty relationship with Green, who supports his primary opponent.

“No one cares what Marjorie Taylor Greene says or thinks,” Judd told CNN. “It's a one-man show. “She's adorable and wants attention.”

Judd did not say whether he would support a vote to sack Johnson, although he said: “I cannot defend the actions that have been taken that are fundamental to doing the same thing that the previous Speaker did.”

Asked whether Johnson should be voted out, Judd said: “I have no comment on that. You know, I think that is a comment in itself.”

Other hardliners oppose Johnson's expulsion.

“I don't think now is the time to put America through another fight to choose someone new as Speaker of the House,” said Republican Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina. “Therefore, I will not support (the motion to vacate the Speaker of the House) if and when it comes to a vote on the House floor.”

But while many Republicans are sticking with Johnson for now, they have warned that his handling of aid to Ukraine when the House returns in April could be crucial to determining where their ultimate support lies.

Republican Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia said he didn't think Greene's threat against Johnson's job was serious, but cautioned: “I think we need to focus on securing our border, before we focus on securing … another country's border.”

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Rep. Matt Gaetz leaves a closed-door House Republican caucus at the U.S. Capitol on October 20, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Some worry that the chaos caused by another speaker battle could lead to a coalition with Democrats that results in House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries taking over as speaker, given the narrow margins in the House and growing frustration among Republicans. A number of GOP lawmakers made that point directly to Greene on the House floor as they tried to dissuade her from moving forward with her decision to impeach Johnson, sources told CNN.

“The last time I pulled the trigger on an eviction proposal, I could make a real promise to the country that we would not end up with a Democratic speaker of the House, and I kept that promise,” Gaetz said in the interview. “And I'm not sure I'll be able to do it again, with a one-vote majority instead of a four-vote majority.”

But Green is pressing forward on social media and behind the scenes to keep up the pressure. She told CNN shortly after announcing her plans that there were “a fair number” of lawmakers who support her efforts, but she did not specify exactly how many lawmakers or who was backing her.

“I have a number of people who have committed, but there are also a large number who have expressed to me really great relief,” she added.

Meanwhile, Greene has been relentlessly targeting Johnson in a storm of social media posts and has not been shy about her intentions.

“My eviction proposal is a force for change and Republicans would do well to take it seriously and spend the necessary time planning and coming together for new leadership,” she said. to publish Thursday.

Haley Talbot and Shiden Tesvaldet contributed to this report.



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