Mike Johnson calls rightwing attempt to remove him as speaker ‘a distraction from our

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Johnson calls rightwing attempt to remove him as speaker ‘a distraction from our mission’

Just before Congress left town last month, rightwing congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene formally proposed removing Mike Johnson as speaker over frustrations that he didn’t secure more conservative policy wins in a bill to keep the government open.

It’s a sore subject for House Republicans, who last year saw Kevin McCarthy booted from the leadership post by a small groups of disaffected Republicans assisted by all Democrats. We don’t know yet if Greene’s motion has enough support to pass, but in his interview with Fox News, Johnson described it as a “distraction”:

I think all of my other Republican colleagues recognize this as a distraction from our mission. Again, the mission is to save the republic. And the only way we can do that is if we grow the House majority, win the Senate and win the White House. So, we don’t need any dissension right now. Look, Marjorie Taylor Greene filed the motion. It’s not a privileged motion, so it doesn’t move automatically. It’s just hanging there. And she’s frustrated.

Johnson noted that “she and I exchanged text messages”, and the pair plan to talk early next week.

Just before Congress left town last month, rightwing congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene formally proposed removing Mike Johnson as speaker over frustrations that he didn’t secure more conservative policy wins in a bill to keep the government open.

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It’s a sore subject for House Republicans, who last year saw Kevin McCarthy booted from the leadership post by a small groups of disaffected Republicans assisted by all Democrats. We don’t know yet if Greene’s motion has enough support to pass, but in his interview with Fox News, Johnson described it as a “distraction”:

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I think all of my other Republican colleagues recognize this as a distraction from our mission. Again, the mission is to save the republic. And the only way we can do that is if we grow the House majority, win the Senate and win the White House. So, we don’t need any dissension right now. Look, Marjorie Taylor Greene filed the motion. It’s not a privileged motion, so it doesn’t move automatically. It’s just hanging there. And she’s frustrated.

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Johnson noted that “she and I exchanged text messages”, and the pair plan to talk early next week.

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Good morning, US politics blog readers. Congress may be out of Washington DC, with lawmakers back in their districts and home states until next week, but there are signs of movement in the long-stalled military aid package for Israel, Ukraine and other national security priorities. Yesterday, Republican House speaker Mike Johnson gave an interview to Fox News where he signaled three demands he may make in order to move the package through the chamber. These were including in the legislation provisions to seize Russian assets and give them to Ukraine, make the aid a loan that Kyiv will pay back at a future date, and roll back Joe Biden’s decision earlier this year to pause new natural gas export projects.

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The big questions now are: will Democrats, who control the Senate and have already passed a version of the military aid bill, accept Johnson’s asks? What about his fellow Republicans in the House, where there are rumblings of booting Johnson from the job? And what of Donald Trump, who clearly has his eye on the matter – after all, he played a big part in killing an earlier compromise that would have paired the assistance with hardline immigration policies. We’ll see if any answers reveal themselves today.

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Here’s what else is going on:

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  • The Biden administration and conservatives squabbled over the weekend after the president declared 31 March “Transgender Day of Visibility”, which happened to correspond with Easter Sunday.

  • n

  • US and Israeli officials will meet virtually to discuss potential alternatives to an offensive against the southern Gaza city of Rafah, Reuters reports.

  • n

  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre briefs reporters at 12pm ET.

  • n

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Key events

California’s Democratic senator Laphonza Butler stuck around Washington DC to briefly gavel the Senate in and out of a pro forma session, a formality required even when lawmakers are not in town.

The upshot of that is she ran into the Capitol press corps, and weighed in on Republican House speaker Mike Johnson’s proposed demands to approve Ukraine aid. Here are her thoughts on that, from Politico:

Democratic Sen. Butler tells reporters she prefers Senate Ukraine bill but is open to negotiating with House: "Whatever form it takes to get the aid to Ukraine, that's the form that we've got to go with"

Still, she warned negotiating on LNG exports could lead to "another delay"

— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) April 1, 2024

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Democratic Sen. Butler tells reporters she prefers Senate Ukraine bill but is open to negotiating with House: “Whatever form it takes to get the aid to Ukraine, that’s the form that we’ve got to go with”

Still, she warned negotiating on LNG exports could lead to “another delay”

— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) April 1, 2024

A major story to follow today is a virtual meeting where US officials are expected to propose to their Israeli counterparts alternatives to attacking the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

An estimated 1.5m Palestinian civilians are sheltering in the city after being forced to flee their homes elsewhere in the enclave, and the Biden administration has publicly criticized Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to invade Rafah, where he says Hamas battalions are positioned.

We have a live blog following the latest on the conflict, and you can read it here:

Mike Johnson’s Fox News interview was significant not just for what he revealed of his demands in order to support aid to Israel and Ukraine, but for comments indicating moving the package will be the first order of business once House lawmakers return to Washington DC. Here’s more on that, from the Guardian’s Richard Luscombe:

The US House speaker, Mike Johnson, has raised expectations that a vote on funding for Ukraine could be imminent in the chamber, even at the risk of the Republican losing his leadership position.

Johnson touted “important innovations” to a possible Ukraine package during an interview on Fox News’ Sunday Night in America with Trey Gowdy, and he suggested a vote on a standalone bill could come soon after Congress returns from Easter recess on 9 April.

But the Louisiana Republican acknowledged forces in his party were trying to unseat him over his efforts to find a bipartisan solution to stalled US funding for Ukraine’s efforts to repel Russia’s military invasion, which began in February 2022. The far-right extremist Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene filed a motion to remove Johnson in March, but she stopped short of calling it for a floor vote.

The White House, meanwhile, has warned that delays are costing Ukraine lives and territory because Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, “gains every day” Congress does not pass a funding measure.

“What we have to do in an era of divided government, historically, as we are, you got to build consensus. If we want to move a partisan measure, I got to have every single member, literally. And some things need to be bipartisan,” Johnson said, acknowledging the shrinking Republican majority in the House.

Johnson calls rightwing attempt to remove him as speaker ‘a distraction from our mission’

Just before Congress left town last month, rightwing congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene formally proposed removing Mike Johnson as speaker over frustrations that he didn’t secure more conservative policy wins in a bill to keep the government open.

It’s a sore subject for House Republicans, who last year saw Kevin McCarthy booted from the leadership post by a small groups of disaffected Republicans assisted by all Democrats. We don’t know yet if Greene’s motion has enough support to pass, but in his interview with Fox News, Johnson described it as a “distraction”:

I think all of my other Republican colleagues recognize this as a distraction from our mission. Again, the mission is to save the republic. And the only way we can do that is if we grow the House majority, win the Senate and win the White House. So, we don’t need any dissension right now. Look, Marjorie Taylor Greene filed the motion. It’s not a privileged motion, so it doesn’t move automatically. It’s just hanging there. And she’s frustrated.

Johnson noted that “she and I exchanged text messages”, and the pair plan to talk early next week.

Johnson floats potential demands to move long-stalled Ukraine aid package

Good morning, US politics blog readers. Congress may be out of Washington DC, with lawmakers back in their districts and home states until next week, but there are signs of movement in the long-stalled military aid package for Israel, Ukraine and other national security priorities. Yesterday, Republican House speaker Mike Johnson gave an interview to Fox News where he signaled three demands he may make in order to move the package through the chamber. These were including in the legislation provisions to seize Russian assets and give them to Ukraine, make the aid a loan that Kyiv will pay back at a future date, and roll back Joe Biden’s decision earlier this year to pause new natural gas export projects.

The big questions now are: will Democrats, who control the Senate and have already passed a version of the military aid bill, accept Johnson’s asks? What about his fellow Republicans in the House, where there are rumblings of booting Johnson from the job? And what of Donald Trump, who clearly has his eye on the matter – after all, he played a big part in killing an earlier compromise that would have paired the assistance with hardline immigration policies. We’ll see if any answers reveal themselves today.

Here’s what else is going on:

  • The Biden administration and conservatives squabbled over the weekend after the president declared 31 March “Transgender Day of Visibility”, which happened to correspond with Easter Sunday.

  • US and Israeli officials will meet virtually to discuss potential alternatives to an offensive against the southern Gaza city of Rafah, Reuters reports.

  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre briefs reporters at 12pm ET.



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