Jeffries: Biden not weighing in on whether Democrats should save Johnson

Jeffries: Biden not weighing in on whether Democrats should save Johnson

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said Friday the White House is not advising Democratic leaders on whether to save Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) from a conservative coup — if one emerges.

A number of Democrats are already on record saying they’d help keep Johnson in power if his hard-line detractors try to topple him over frustrations with his bipartisan deal-making — a Democratic rescue mission Jeffries has acknowledged, though without endorsing it himself.

On Friday, Jeffries said President Biden has not weighed in on the issue. Asked if that means the White House is leaving the decision entirely up to House Democrats, Jeffries didn’t hesitate.

“That’s correct,” he said. “And that was also the case in October of last year” — a reference to the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), which was supported by every voting Democrat.

The Democrats’ approach to Johnson has been different.

After Johnson was threatened by conservatives for cutting deals with Biden on federal spending and government surveillance, a number of Democrats said they’d vote to save the Speaker if one of those hard-liners brings a removal resolution to the floor.

Their stipulation? He would have to usher a foreign aid package — including billions of dollars for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and humanitarian aid in Gaza — through the House, where it has been stuck for months.

This week, Johnson brushed aside his conservative critics to champion that foreign aid legislation, which advanced through the House on Friday and is expected to win final passage on Saturday with broad bipartisan support.

It’s unclear if Johnson’s decision to defy his right flank will result in a bid to remove his gavel.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has already introduced a motion to vacate resolution, which has the support of two additional Republicans: Reps. Thomas Massie (Ky.) and Paul Gosar (Ariz.). But Greene has not said when — or even if — she intends to force a vote on the measure.

Complicating her decision, former President Trump recently endorsed Johnson’s performance as Speaker, saying he’s “doing a very good job.” And a number of Johnson’s other conservative critics are opposing the Speaker’s removal, citing the absence of a clear-cut successor and the political perils of launching an internal leadership battle so close to November’s elections, when control of the House is up for grabs.

Still, with the fate of the foreign aid legislation still to be decided, there remains a chance that Greene — or another hardliner — might push a motion to vacate resolution to the floor.

Jeffries, in recent months, has predicted there are enough Democrats willing to swoop in and table that resolution that Johnson would survive the coup attempt.

Jeffries has characterized his prediction as an observation, not a declaration — a statement he reiterated on Friday. And he emphasized that any final decisions on a motion to vacate strategy would be made only after a rigorous conversation with the House Democratic Caucus.

“But first things first,” he said. “We still have to get the national security bills over the finish line.”

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