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U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies during a hearing by the House Judiciary Committee, Washington, DC, June 4, 2024. Republicans repeatedly questioned him about his role in Trump's conviction in New York, which was a state trial and out of the Department of Justice's jurisdiction. (Photo by Allison Bailey / Middle East Images / Middle East Images via AFP) (Photo by ALLISON BAILEY/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty Images)

House GOP readies for Garland vote

This week is all of a sudden shaping up to be a mess for House Republican leadership.

Speaker Mike Johnson’s team is struggling to corral the votes to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt for refusing to turn over audiotapes of President Joe Biden’s interviews with Special Counsel Robert Hur. Garland would be the third attorney general and fourth Cabinet official to be held in contempt by the House over the last dozen years.

Depending on who you talk to in the House GOP conference, Republicans have the votes and were moving ahead with the Garland contempt vote. Alternatively, we’ve been told by multiple sources that several Republican moderates remain undecided or no despite weeks of whipping by the leadership.

So it’s not clear that Johnson and top House Republicans will be able to hold the vote this week. One lawmaker suggested that Johnson will only be able to bring the Garland resolution up if enough Democrats are absent today.

The House GOP leadership also isn’t committing to bringing up a bill from Rep. Russell Fry (R-S.C.) that would shift criminal cases against former presidents from state court to federal court.

And there will be votes on a host of tricky amendments on the NDAA, measures that will split the House Republican Conference and guarantee that the Pentagon’s annual policy bill will be carried with only GOP votes.

Remember: Johnson has a bare-bones majority. Depending on absences, he may only be able to lose a couple of votes on any bill.

Garland. As we noted, there are House GOP moderates still on the fence regarding Garland. Members of the Republican Governance Group discussed the issue at their retreat Monday at the tony Salamander Resort in Middleburg, Va.

Members of the GOP leadership are concerned that if the effort fails on the House floor, it could hurt Republicans in any legal battle with the Justice Department over the Biden audiotapes.

The Republican leadership has put this bill on the floor schedule for today, but there’s a non-zero chance it gets punted.

The Trump bill. The House GOP leadership has been mulling putting a bill on the floor this week that would allow presidents and vice presidents to move state criminal and civil cases to federal court. This is in response to former President Donald Trump’s conviction on hush-money charges in New York. Johnson is an original cosponsor of this bill, which was introduced before he became speaker.

But let’s be clear: This bill has absolutely zero chance of passing the Senate, and it looks like it may not even pass the House. Moderates are the most vocal opponents here, concerned about the optics of changing the justice system to bend it to Trump’s will. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and David Joyce (R-Ohio) are among those with reservations about the bill.

The NDAA. The historically bipartisan Pentagon policy bill is again turning into a partisan exercise in the House.

The House Rules Committee has greenlit votes on a number of controversial amendments to the legislation, including Rep. Beth Van Duyne’s (R-Texas) measure that would ban the Pentagon from paying for abortions, and separate language from Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) and Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) that bars the Pentagon from “furnishing” gender transition surgery or hormone treatments.

All told, there were 350 amendments made in order to the NDAA. Not all will be subject to a recorded vote.

— Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan

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