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In the House: Republican Conference Puts Johnson through the Grinder

It's not easy to stay up-to-date on the soap opera that is the United States House of Representatives' Republican Conference. Yesterday, several of the far-right members of the Conference tried to twist Speaker Mike Johnson's (R-LA) arm so that he might back down on his plans to bring a bill for Ukraine aid up for a vote. He said that he was not only not backing down, but that he also wanted to change the rules of the House so that a single member can no longer bring a motion to vacate.

Once that got out there, the elephant poop really hit the fan. Several members of the Freedom Caucus said that they are not sure yet if the Ukraine bill will lead them to support Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) in vacating the chair, but that taking away the one-member-can-vacate rule certainly would cause them to support getting rid of Johnson. Several of the non-crazy and/or less crazy members got angry about all of this, and there was shouting on the floor of the House, with several GOP members nearly coming to blows. Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-WI) confronted the Speaker, said he might well bring his own motion to vacate, and called Johnson "tubby."

Later, after things had calmed down, Van Orden explained to reporters that the "tubby" insult was not meant for Johnson, but instead for Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL). He said:

That [tubby insult] was directed directly at Matt Gaetz. He felt like he should call me a squish and I wanted to remind anybody who has not been in combat and held his friend's hand as they died being shot by the enemy really doesn't have any business calling someone else a squish. And so, in fact, I did call him tubby and I stand by that.

So what that means is that, in the process of engaging in obnoxiousness and aggression with the Speaker, the FCers were simultaneously engaging in obnoxiousness and aggression with each other. Perfectly normal, perfectly healthy. Right?

Eventually, Johnson backed down on his plan to change the motion-to-vacate rule. Still, the non-crazy/less crazy members were furious with the nutters. Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY) appeared on CNN, and blamed "Matt Gaetz and seven useful idiots" for all the chaos in the House. Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-NY) was also on CNN, and expressed similar sentiments, saying of Greene: "Her theater and this constant effort to hold the Congress hostage has to come to an end. And a good number of my colleagues—conservative and moderate—believe that enough is enough. It is time to move on and to move past this kind of nonsense."

As chance would have it, at very nearly the same time that Molinaro was on CNN lambasting Greene's craziness, she was providing Exhibit number 1,439 of said craziness, filing an amendment to the Israel aid bill that reads "By the funds made available by this Act, such sums as necessary shall be used for the development of space laser technology on the southwest border." Yep, the only way Israel can fight off Hamas is with adequate investment in Jewish space lasers.

Also coming late yesterday afternoon was an announcement from Rep. Jake LaTurner (R-KS) that he will retire from his seat at the end of the term. He gave a standard explanation, that he wants to "pursue other opportunities and have the benefit of spending more time with my family." And he made a point of implying that his announcement was not inspired by yesterday's events, writing: "Undoubtedly, the current dysfunction on Capitol Hill is distressing, but it almost always has been; we just didn't see most of it." If the implication is truthful, well, then it's quite a coincidence that he just so happened to throw in the towel on a day of high drama right in the middle of the week. In any case, LaTurner's district, KS-02, covers the eastern part of Kansas, excepting the lefty suburbs of Kansas City. It's R+11, and will undoubtedly remain in Republican hands. (Z)

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