Skip to content
Sign up to receive our free weekday morning edition, and you'll never miss a scoop.
Speaker Mike Johnson spoke to donors at the Four Seasons

What Mike Johnson told big donors behind closed doors

News: Speaker Mike Johnson signaled to an audience at his high-dollar donor retreat that he’d support kicking members off their committees if they oppose party-line procedural votes.

Republicans voting against the rule has been a huge problem for Johnson and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy this Congress. With the GOP’s razor-thin margin of control, Republicans can only afford a handful of defections on rule votes, which are typically passed on a partisan basis. It was once unthinkable to have a member of the majority vote against a rule. But hardline Republicans — even those serving on the Rules Committee — have made it practice. Control of the Rules Committee is how the speaker controls the floor.

Johnson made the remarks at the Four Seasons during the two-day retreat, which kicked off Sunday night. Johnson noted he has no way to force lawmakers into line. He said that next Congress, Republicans should think about rules changes that reflect the will of the majority of the House GOP. Hello, motion to vacate!

What to expect this week: The House is in today and the Senate returns tomorrow. President Joe Biden will have lunch with King Abdullah II of Jordan today at the White House. Biden then heads to Racine, Wis., and Chicago on Wednesday.

We’ll focus this morning on Johnson, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and this week’s expected vote on Greene’s motion to dump the speaker.

To start with, there’s no reason to believe the motion to vacate will succeed. Greene only has two other public supporters of the motion at this point — Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.).

Sources close to the Georgia Republican say she’s working to round up more votes, and there are clearly a number of conservative hardliners who don’t like what Johnson did on Ukraine aid or the FY2024 spending bills. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) seems to be at his tipping point as well.

Inside the GOP leadership, the mood is calm. After House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and other top Democrats declared that they’re ready to help Johnson table a motion to vacate, there’s no chance that the speaker can be toppled — at least not in this instance. The challenge for Johnson is whether Greene keeps doing this and whether he can continue to hold his conference together.

The Georgia Republican kept up her public attacks on Johnson over the weekend, saying the speaker “must resign or be removed” after the Democrats’ declaration of support.

Yet being upset with Johnson is a long way from voting to oust him, especially after October’s debacle for House Republicans following McCarthy’s removal. That painful memory, combined with a lack of a real alternative and the looming November election, helps Johnson enormously.

As we reported, there’s no broad movement inside the House Freedom Caucus to dump Johnson. Other top conservatives including House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) continue to back Johnson despite their unhappiness with his policy decisions.

Johnson has also gotten backing from former President Donald Trump, who said the speaker is “doing a very good job” with the small margin of control that House Republicans have. Johnson attended a Trump campaign donor retreat on Thursday and appeared on stage with the former president.

And as we scooped on Friday and as mentioned above, Johnson has his own big-donor retreat today at the Four Seasons in Georgetown. A notable political attendee is former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a one-time House member. A number of prominent Silicon Valley figures will also be there. Remember that the NRCC is getting crushed by the DCCC, so hand-holding with donors is especially critical.

On the floor this week: The pressing issue for Congress is the FAA reauthorization.

The Senate is trying to pass it before the Friday deadline, though it’ll take a unanimous consent agreement to finish up in time. Negotiations over potential amendment votes continued over the weekend. Some Senate leaders have floated a short-term FAA extension, citing the condensed timeline.

The House has listed the FAA bill as possible on the floor this week.

Here is a flavor of the other bills the House may consider:

“The Hands Off Our Home Appliances Act.” House Republicans have been hot on the idea that the Biden administration is waging a war against home gadgets.

The Securing the Chain of Command Continuity Act would mandate “an executive agency whose head is a member of the National Security Council to notify the Executive Office of the President, the Comptroller General of the United States, and congressional leadership of such head becoming medically incapacitated within 24 hours.” This is aimed at Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who was hospitalized and didn’t inform the White House.

The ASTRO Actwould “authorize transportation for government astronauts returning from space between their residence and various locations.”

Around the Capitol: The House has a number of antisemitism-related hearings this week. (More on this below). Plus, it’s appropriations season, meaning several Cabinet officials and agency heads are on the Hill to testify about how much money they need from taxpayers.

— John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman

Presented by Apollo

Apollo is helping to fuel the economy and promote resiliency in the financial system by originating investment-grade private credit. Learn how Apollo is helping the great American businesses of today become leaders of tomorrow.

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