Populist House Republicans Take Bitter Losses

Mike Johnson’s speakership is pitting Trump’s camp against the establishment.

What’s happening: House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) partnered with more than 200 Democrats to pass $96 billion in foreign aid, including $60.8 billion to Ukraine, leaving anti-Ukraine war Republicans in an angry minority.

The split: Hardline Republicans oppose more funding for Ukraine’s war with Russia while some want U.S. border security funding attached to such legislation. Johnson believes countering Russian aggression is a high priority and is temporarily willing to accept a lack of border solutions.

  • Trump’s role: Johnson consulted former President Trump, who successfully pushed for some Ukraine aid to take the form of a loan instead of being “just a gift.” However, the aid package is largely a defeat for the anti-Ukraine war wing of the Republican Party.

Why it matters: In a narrowly split House, hardline Republicans have been railroaded on major issues. Johnson’s speakership is testing the fractured GOP caucus as they face a more unified Democratic party.

  • On government spying: Johnson helped pass a bill this month expanding warrantless surveillance powers that Trump and his allies have long sought to reform.

  • Government shutdown: Hardline Republicans have shown a willingness to allow a government shutdown if it pressures Democrats into making legislative concessions. Johnson continues to avoid this at all costs, saying it would hurt Republicans in the November elections.

Fighting back: Some conservatives are threatening to hold a vote to remove Johnson as speaker — the same vote that kicked out his predecessor, former Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). The precarious situation raises the stakes for Trump’s reelection campaign, as a November win could shift more power to Congressional Republicans.

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