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Mike Johnson
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Mike Johnson’s Aid Plan Is Under Fire. So Is His Speakership.

“At some point, there would be a great value of having a united GOP,” one Republican said.

House Speaker Mike Johnson is getting his first reviews from conservatives in his conference for his new security aid plan: The process is too closed, the specifics give too much to Democrats and, according to a couple of members, maybe it’s just time for him to go.

Rep. Thomas Massie welcomed Johnson’s plan by joining Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in calling for Johnson to resign or face a motion to vacate. If Johnson doesn’t step aside, Massie said Tuesday, “It’s going to throw our conference into turmoil.”

“The motion will get called, and then he’s gonna lose more votes than Kevin McCarthy,” he said after announcing his plan to the Republican conference Tuesday morning.

Johnson said he won’t resign and that he’s not concerned about the threat of being ousted from the speakership.

“We need steady leadership. We need steady hands on the wheel,” Johnson said in a press conference. “I regard myself as a wartime speaker. I knew that when I took the gavel. I didn’t anticipate that this would be an easy path.”

It certainly won’t be an easy path for Johnson to stay in leadership or for these four bills to make their way to the Senate. Conservative members are incensed over the lack of border provisions and the possibility of the four being packaged together in one bill for the Senate.

“It’s being sold as an open process, but it’s all structured to achieve a final omnibus result, which is going to be effectively similar to the Senate bill,” Rep. Chip Roy said.

Members who have long opposed funding for Ukraine said they felt they were giving in to Democrats’ and President Joe Biden’s demands without getting anything on the border in return.

“Our leverage is Ukraine, and it’s being given away, and there’s no border in return,” Massie said after the plan was rolled out Monday night.

It’s all causing some members to air their grievances against Johnson and against the national security bills. Massie’s call to oust Johnson was met with boos, according to several Republicans in the room, even from those who have been adamantly opposed to Ukraine aid.

“At some point, there would be a great value of having a united GOP,” Rep. Mike Kelly told NOTUS after the conference on Tuesday. “I have never seen any Democrats come down the Capitol steps when Ms. Pelosi was speaker, have anybody say one word negative about anything that was going on.”

“You don’t have to go out and just tear everything apart. It doesn’t work well in organizations, and it sure as hell doesn’t work in families,” he said.

The bill text for the aid package is still in the works, and Johnson told Republicans to expect votes either Friday night or Saturday morning.

If the bills do fall apart, Republicans who have long pushed for aid to Ukraine and Israel said they aren’t ruling out signing a discharge petition to bring the Senate supplemental bill to the House floor. That bill, which the Senate passed in February on a bipartisan vote, includes nearly $100 billion in military and humanitarian foreign aid. There are currently 195 signatures on the discharge petition — all from Democrats, except for former Rep. Ken Buck, who signed it shortly before he resigned in March.

“If they fall, I think some people are gonna say we’ve got no other choice,” Rep. Don Bacon said. He hasn’t committed to signing the discharge petition if that happens.

With Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher planning to step down on Friday — bringing the Republican majority to just one vote — Johnson will have no choice but to garner Democratic support not only for the four national security bills but also for his own position as speaker if a motion to vacate is brought forward.

Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said he would only support Johnson’s national security plan if humanitarian aid was included. According to Republican members, Johnson said humanitarian funding for Ukraine would be offered as a loan. As for the motion to vacate, House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar said he’s “not itching” to make more speeches in support of Jeffries in a speakership fight, something Democrats did for hours the last time around, and that “we stand willing to work with anyone who wants to deliver on that help and support” for Ukraine.

Johnson is pushing past the public disagreements putting his position in peril and focusing on getting the four bills introduced and to the floor.

“We have to have our members work together, and we’ll be working today to do that very thing,” Johnson said.

Katherine Swartz is a NOTUS reporter and Allbritton Journalism Institute fellow. John T. Seward, a NOTUS reporters and Allbritton Journalism Institute fellow, contributed reporting.