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Mike Johnson safe for now

Freedom Caucus won’t seek to oust Mike Johnson, at least not right now

The House Freedom Caucus is upset with Speaker Mike Johnson. Even furious.

But the group of hardline Republican conservatives isn’t signing onto Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) call to oust Johnson. At least not yet.

“I’m not convinced that if we go into a motion to vacate, we come out with a more conservative solution, so I think every person has to evaluate it,” Rep. Josh Brecheen (R-Okla.) said Monday night.

Instead, the HFC is looking to get back at Johnson in other ways, payback for his support for Ukraine funding, FISA reauthorization and the FY2024 spending packages.

All of these measures passed with big bipartisan majorities — more Democrats than Republicans — which angered Johnson’s right wing. Conservatives accuse Johnson of running a “coalition government” or working on behalf of “the uniparty” rather than pushing for GOP priorities.

Freedom Caucus members will likely continue opposing rules and taking other retaliatory steps, as they have throughout this Congress. This will be a problem for passing any FY2025 spending bills, at least before a lame-duck session.

“It depends. We’re going to see what’s brewing for the rest of the summer into the fall,” Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) said. “I think it’d be the fair thing to do, but if it looks like it’s headed completely off the rails, it’s going to make people angry.”

There’s no clear alternative to Johnson, however, and the HFC knows it. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Majority Whip Tom Emmer and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) all took their shots at the speaker’s gavel and came up short. There’s no one else in the Republican Conference who could get 218 votes, or even close to that.

And with the Ukraine and FISA bills passed and federal agencies funded through September, Johnson faces less pressure at the moment on major legislative issues.

Yet there are warning signs that Johnson can’t win reelection as speaker in January if Republicans hold only a slim majority similar to the one they have right now.

“We need to wait until November and have a speaker contest,” Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), chair of the Freedom Caucus, said Monday night.

“[Johnson is] making his coalition the way he wants to,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) added. “I do think people are positioning themselves to run for speaker.”

Greene — who was kicked out of the Freedom Caucus last year in part for backing former Speaker Kevin McCarthy — has been joined by Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) in demanding Johnson resign or face a motion to vacate. Johnson has repeatedly said he’s not worried about this, despite what happened to McCarthy.

Greene has kept up her barrage online against Johnson:

Greene’s office didn’t have any comment Monday on the Georgia Republican’s next move.

Former President Donald Trump is backing Johnson, which the Louisiana Republican badly needs. Johnson and House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik will attend a “Spring Donor Retreat” put on by the Trump campaign later this week.

Johnson also announced on Monday night that House Republicans will launch a “House-Wide Crackdown on Antisemitism on College Campuses.” Johnson will lead a news conference with committee chairs on the issue this afternoon.

Johnson visited Columbia University last Wednesday and called for Nemat Shafik, the school’s president, to resign if she couldn’t gain control of the situation.

But the pro-Palestinian protests are continuing at Columbia and have spread to colleges across the country, challenging both school officials and political leaders in how to respond to them. The House will vote on a bipartisan bill this week requiring the Department of Education to use a broader definition of antisemitism when enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws.

Scooplet: There’s new pressure on Johnson to take up the Senate-passed Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). More than two dozen lawmakers signed a letter to Johnson this morning urging him to pass it before the program expires in June.

Sens. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) led the effort. It’s also possible that the Senate could jam the House with RECA reauthorization as part of the FAA bill in the coming days.

More: Jim VandeHei, the founder of both Axios and Politico, has a new book out today. The book is called “Just the Good Stuff.” Order it here.

— Mica Soellner, John Bresnahan, Andrew Desiderio and Jake Sherman

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.