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Congress leaves town with everyone mad

It’s recess. Both the House and Senate are out for the next two weeks. President Joe Biden will be on the road this week, traveling first to North Carolina with Vice President Kamala Harris and then on to New York City.

If you were awake very early Saturday morning like we were, you watched the Senate pass the $1.2 trillion minibus spending package by a 74-24 margin, averting a shutdown that would have affected a number of federal agencies.

That vote ended a 10-month ordeal that began with last May’s spending and debt-limit deal between President Joe Biden and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. After McCarthy was ousted in October, House Republicans tried to alter the agreement, but Hill Democrats and the White House were having none of it.

“I hope they understand that when you strike a deal, you have to stick to it,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) lectured House Republicans following the vote Saturday. “It has to mean something.”

Murray’s remarks capture the current mood on Capitol Hill. The 118th Congress is the least productive in decades. And everyone left town mad as they do the bare minimum legislatively with the November election looming. We’ll sum it up for you (and we’re leaving some stuff out for clarity):

House conservatives are upset with Speaker Mike Johnson over the spending bill and may seek to oust him. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — who has his own problems with conservatives — is upset with Johnson for not putting a Ukraine aid bill on the floor. Democrats feel the same.

Progressives are upset with Biden and their own leadership for including nearly $4 billion in military aid for Israel in the minibus package. Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are upset with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the conduct of the Gaza war, while Republicans are upset with Biden and Schumer over their treatment of Netanyahu.

Biden is upset with House Republicans over their sputtering impeachment inquiry, while conservatives are demanding that Schumer move forward with a full impeachment trial for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Got it?

Things are so bad that members are just quitting Congress without even telling party leaders. House Republicans will be down to a one-vote margin soon. One. Vote.

Let’s start with Johnson’s situation. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) filed a motion to vacate the chair — meaning oust the speaker — before the House left for the recess, a sign of the fury on the right. MTG called it a “warning and a pink slip” for Johnson, although she didn’t set a date for a floor vote. A total of 112 Republicans voted no on the minibus — including eight committee chairs — compared to just 101 supporting the measure.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), a leading member of the House Freedom Caucus, wouldn’t say whether he would back a motion to vacate against Johnson during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. But he didn’t say no either.

“I can promise you, if you put a Ukraine bill on the floor and you haven’t secured the border, there’s going to be a problem… within the ranks on Capitol Hill,” Roy told Jake Tapper.

On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said Johnson has committed to putting a Ukraine bill on the floor after Easter, although he acknowledged Johnson is in a “tough spot.” Johnson hasn’t said this publicly.

Johnson — nowhere near as politically radioactive as McCarthy or former Speaker John Boehner were in similar situations — insists he’s not worried. Johnson has already announced that the House “will take the necessary steps” to address the Ukraine funding bill passed by the Senate, as well as unveiling immigration and border security proposals.

The Louisiana Republican will spend the recess holding fundraisers and meetings in California, Arizona, Arkansas and Florida, a Johnson spokesperson said.

Across the aisle: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chair of the HELP Committee, is angry that the minibus included billions of dollars in military aid for Israel.

“While hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children face starvation in Gaza, this bill actually prohibits funding to [UNRWA], the key United Nations aid agency delivering life-saving humanitarian support,” Sanders said in a statement. “This bill also provides another $3.3 billion in U.S. military aid for Netanyahu’s right-wing government to continue this barbaric war.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) described the Israeli military campaign as “an unfolding genocide” during a speech on the House floor Friday. AOC — who called on the Biden administration to stop sending weapons to Israel — was one of 22 House Democrats who voted against the minibus.

And Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) — another no — continues to demand that Johnson allow a vote on Ukraine aid: “If the speaker puts Ukraine funding on the floor, it will pass with a bipartisan vote; if he does not, he will have to explain why he lost Ukraine.”

— John Bresnahan

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