Contained in the White Home Scenario Room, new Home Speaker Mike Johnson made clear to Biden administration officers his calls for when it got here to overseas help: Help to Israel for its conflict in opposition to Hamas must be separated out from help for Ukraine, defending itself from a Russian invasion now greater than 20 months lengthy.
What You Want To Know
- On his first full day as speaker, Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., met with President Joe Biden on the White Home to debate a overseas assist bundle for Israel and Ukraine
- Earlier within the day, White Home Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated she couldn’t say if Johnson, a comparatively low-ranking member of Home GOP management previous to Wednesday, and Biden have ever spoken immediately
- After weeks with no speaker, Congress has a busy agenda forward of it: By Nov. 17, lawmakers should fund the federal government once more or danger a federal shutdown; President Joe Biden desires almost $106 billion in army and humanitarian assist for Israel and Ukraine; And Republicans are desirous to resume their impeachment inquiry into Biden over his son Hunter’s enterprise dealings
- Johnson and different Home leaders had been going to the White Home for a labeled briefing within the Scenario Room on the administration’s emergency funding request for Ukraine and Israel
Instantly, Johnson confronted pushback, in accordance with folks with information of the Oct. 26 briefing. Democratic lawmakers in attendance, in addition to nationwide safety adviser Jake Sullivan and White Home price range director Shalanda Younger — spelled out to Johnson their deep opposition to splitting up the help, stated the folks, who had been granted anonymity to debate a personal assembly.
Even some Home Republicans within the room signaled they disagreed with the brand new speaker’s stance.
“He was listening to a level, however he was additionally bringing forth most of the MAGA Republican viewpoints and never from a perspective of bringing Congress collectively to maneuver us ahead in a greater path,” stated Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., referring to former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Nice Once more” marketing campaign slogan. Meeks attended the White Home briefing.
That confrontation, simply 24 hours after Johnson catapulted into the speakership, confirmed the Republican chief’s willingness to problem well-established White Home expectations and even defy members of his personal occasion, each in public and in personal. It additionally began to telegraph to the administration and congressional Democrats how he may govern.
Johnson’s early strikes have confounded administration officers, notably his technique on assist to Israel. Contained in the White Home, aides took explicit discover of Johnson’s determination to insist that emergency overseas help be coupled with offsetting cuts — a step not often taken, if ever. On high on that, in a sharply partisan transfer, he selected to pay for assist utilizing IRS assets supposed to rein in tax cheats.
That laws handed the Home this previous week on a 226-196 vote, with 12 Democrats becoming a member of Republicans. Senior White Home aides had furiously labored the telephones within the last hours main as much as the vote, notably with Jewish Democrats, outlining not solely President Joe Biden’s coverage objections to the invoice but in addition the political must restrict Democratic defections, in accordance with folks conversant in the administration’s message.
Johnson was unapologetic.
“If Democrats within the Senate or the Home or anybody else … need to argue that hiring extra IRS brokers is extra vital than standing with Israel on this second, I’m able to have that debate,” Johnson, R-La., stated on the Capitol in his first formal information convention as speaker. “I didn’t connect that for political functions, OK?”
Nonetheless, White Home officers proceed to strategy him with a way of curiosity, regardless of their early skepticism. They even discovered some causes for encouragement, primarily Johnson’s surprisingly heat remarks concerning the want to assist Ukraine, contemplating his previous votes opposing the funding.
Although Democrats consider Johnson is a extra helpful political foil than his predecessor as speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the White Home itself has been cautious to not overtly antagonize Johnson, intentionally deferring a lot of the campaign-style assaults on his background and positions to the occasion’s political committees.
Through the drawn-out speakership spectacle, the White Home averted any public involvement. As soon as Johnson was formally elected, administration officers, like a lot of Washington and the political world, scrambled to find out about Johnson, whose interactions with the White Home throughout the Biden presidency have been primarily nonexistent.
Which means the White Home’s get-to-know-you course of is continuous.
Jeff Zients, the White Home chief of employees, and presidential counselor Steve Ricchetti spoke cordially with Johnson as Biden met with him for the primary time. When the White Home invited Johnson to the Scenario Room, officers made positive he knew he might deliver a nationwide safety aide into the labeled session — a prerogative that he will get as speaker of the Home.
Biden “desires to work in good religion with whoever they … selected to be speaker — it occurs to be Speaker Johnson — and he desires to ship for the American folks,” White Home press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated shortly after Johnson’s elevation to the speakership. “That’s one thing that the president has stated himself over the past couple of weeks.”
A low-profile conservative who was first elected to Congress in 2016, Johnson, 51, had come into the put up with scant political management expertise and was by no means recognized for bipartisan bona fides. That might not be a starker distinction with Biden, 80, a decadeslong veteran of Washington who places a excessive worth on private relationships and bipartisanship.
As Johnson started his inconceivable rise to the highest of the Home Republican ranks, the White Home additionally privately took observe of his hard-right positions and his similarities, no less than in substance, to Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the Home Judiciary Committee chairman and one of many administration’s chief antagonists who’s main an impeachment inquiry into Biden.
Johnson had taken a proactive position in former President Donald Trump’s efforts to stay in workplace regardless of shedding to Democrat Biden in 2020, rallying different lawmakers to signal a letter of help for an unsuccessful case by a number of states to throw out some election outcomes. Earlier than coming into politics, Johnson was a lawyer specializing in constitutional points.
When Johnson outlined his rationale for his speaker candidacy final month, he argued that “the president is clearly incapable of main and the Senate is unwilling.” Despite the fact that Johnson described his assembly with Biden as cordial, the speaker stated in a Fox Information interview that he seen a cognitive decline.
Biden has spoken little publicly about Johnson himself, however he has continued to make use of the Home GOP’s speakership mess as he makes his case to stay in workplace and never put Trump again within the White Home.
“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans are decided to destroy this democracy,” Biden stated at a fundraiser in Minneapolis this previous week. “And whereas the MAGA Republicans within the Home have been preventing amongst themselves, struggling to elect a speaker, making an attempt to close down the federal government, sowing seeds of destruction at each flip, Kamala and I are at all times going to defend, shield, and struggle for that democracy,” he stated, referring to Vice President Kamala Harris.
Johnson’s allies say his direct demeanor will serve him properly as a counterpoint to the administration.
“He’s a straight shooter, so he’s not going to play video games with them. They’ll know what he’s pondering,” stated Sen. Invoice Cassidy, R-La., who is aware of Johnson properly and is without doubt one of the handful of GOP lawmakers who’ve labored intently with the Biden White Home. “Mike could have his eyes broad open. He’s not naïve.”
Different Republicans have stated Johnson’s largest power is that he has but to burn bridges with anybody on both aspect of the aisle. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., stated the identical qualities that helped Johnson get elected speaker are what’s going to assist him negotiate with the president.
“It is going to be onerous for me as a result of I’m cussed, you perceive and I’ve tough edges,” Higgins stated of Johnson’s contrasting and smoother model. “However Mike is such a, a form and compassionate and well mannered gentleman.”