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Mike Johnson

Leadership mulling changes to make it harder to boot Mike Johnson

News: Top House Republican leaders and aides are privately discussing using the debate over the $95 billion foreign aid package to make it harder to oust Speaker Mike Johnson. This comes as Johnson faces another uprising from his right.

Right now, any member can file a motion to vacate the chair, which triggers a potential snap referendum on the speaker. This was how hardliners ousted former Speaker Kevin McCarthy in October. And Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has filed such a motion against Johnson, although she hasn’t sought a vote yet.

With Johnson getting hefty opposition from the House Freedom Caucus and other conservatives over the foreign aid package, the GOP leadership is discussing embedding language in the rule for debating the legislation that would raise the threshold needed to file motions to vacate. Under former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, only the party leaders could file such motions. McCarthy agreed to lower it to one member back in January 2023, which ultimately cost him his job.

Johnson hasn’t made a decision whether he’ll pursue this change, we’re told. But he’s getting pressed by scores of members to raise the threshold now.

This comes as Johnson’s multi-part effort to move the foreign aid package — which includes $61 billion for Ukraine and $26 billion for Israel and the Gaza war — was stuck on Wednesday night. The Ukraine funding is causing huge problems with conservatives.

House GOP leaders also want to push through a big border-security bill as part of this week’s effort. This includes the funding for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, border security and a “sidecar” full of other measures, such as a revised TikTok ban.

Yet the Rules Committee’s hearing to pass the border security bill — a modified version of H.R. 2, which House Republicans passed last year — stalled out late Wednesday night. So the fate of this bill is unclear. The panel is scheduled to meet again at 10 a.m., so we’ll see what Johnson does.

It seems very obvious that Johnson will need Democrats to bring the foreign aid legislation up.

Johnson is finally leaning in on Ukraine. During a recent staff meeting in Johnson’s office, an aide to the Louisiana Republican spoke up and told the speaker that he has “FISA, Ukraine and the speakership.” You can’t have all three, the aide warned Johnson.

Johnson demurred and said he wasn’t sure about that. He’s testing that proposition.

In the intervening weeks, Johnson passed a reauthorization of FISA and has released a trio of bills to send critical foreign aid to Israel, the Indo-Pacific and Ukraine.

And for the first time since becoming speaker, Johnson is making a strong case for aiding Ukraine, a position that is almost certain to result in a challenge to his speakership in the coming weeks.

There’s a lot to take away from here. This is the kind of forceful argument for Ukraine that supporters have been hoping to hear from Johnson for some time. Johnson has decided to pass the aid package, no matter what the consequences are.

In addition, Johnson says he believes the intelligence briefings that he has gotten as a member of the Gang of Eight. Imagine that!

Also: Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) announced her support for the House’s latest TikTok bill on Wednesday night. It’s a major development for the legislation, which is to be included in Johnson’s “sidecar” package.

Cantwell announced her support after we scooped that the TikTok bill will be tweaked to allow the president to extend the divestment period from six months to one year.

Just last week, Cantwell was detailing her problems with the bill, including her belief that it couldn’t withstand legal scrutiny. Cantwell was viewed as a serious obstacle to getting this legislation through the Senate, so this is a big deal.

DCCC wallops NRCC … again: The DCCC raised $45.4 million in the first quarter of 2024, outpacing the NRCC by $12 million. That’s the DCCC’s best quarter of the 2024 cycle and includes a $21.4 million March haul. This is a massive show of force for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

The DCCC has $71.1 million on hand. Compare that to the NRCC, which has $55.9 million on hand.

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

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