House Freedom Caucus Roiled by Ukraine Funding Bill and Shocking Move to Halt Vacate-the-Chair Votes

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The House GOP Caucus appears to be on the brink of civil war, as the House Rules Committee discusses the voting rules for the foreign aid legislation Speaker Johnson promised to put to a vote this Saturday.

Two key issues are at the root of the possible irreversible split between the House GOP and Freedom Caucus.

First, Speaker Johnson will adopt a rule that governs the vote when Democrat votes are present. Nine Republicans and four Democrats make up the rules committee. Johnson has a problem because three Republican members are opposed to Johnson’s proposal. Thomas Massie, Greg Norman, and Chip Roy are said to be the three Republican members. For the first time ever in the history the Rules Committee, this means that the Speaker must use votes from an opposition party to pass their legislative program.

Opponents of the proposed rule are adamant that the only way to get a border bill is by attaching it to the Ukraine Military Aid Bill. Johnson has offered a version H.R. Everyone knows that H.R. This argument, as an aside is dishonest to the point that it’s disingenuous. Since the beginning of the new Congress in January, there has been no attempt to link border security with any other bill. It seems that the same logic applies to linking border security with Israel and Taiwan as it does to Ukraine. It’s not something I would like to brag about.

Second, the threshold of votes for a “motion” to leave the chair must be changed. Kevin McCarthy struck a Faustian bargain by agreeing to a rule amendment that would allow any member to request a vote to replace the Speaker in exchange for keeping his position as Speaker. McCarthy’s decision backfired when eight Republicans teamed with the Democrat block to remove him.

Some members have gone nuts.

As in marriage, one should never say something that they can’t later take back. I believe the Freedom Caucus did just that. Some prominent caucus and their allies have probably damaged any relationship between themselves and Johnson or the rest of House GOP with the social media comments they made about Johnson. The Freedom Caucus memo compares Johnson’s method to that of Nancy Pelosi.

Derrick Van Orden of Wisconsin, a Republican, allegedly confronted Johnson in public and called him “tubby”.

Van Orden now admits that he called Matt Gaetz a “tubby”, after Gaetz called Gaetz a “squish.” He said his comment on the motion to vacate amounted to a challenge for Greene and other people who had threatened to vote. It’s ugly either way and it will leave scars.

Matt Gaetz’s rhetoric was almost Churchillian.

Today, I believe a major Rubicon was crossed. Three members of House Rules Committee threaten the Speaker with a vacate motion. This motion will not be heard because unlike McCarthy, the Democrats are going to vote in support of Johnson.

This revolt of members who were admitted into the sanctum sacrum of the House will probably not be forgotten.

Johnson negotiated the deal which gave the Freedom Caucus 3 seats in the Rules Committee. Johnson is more than likely to return to the past and replace them by loyalists after this fiasco.

Even its members do not agree on the extreme stance taken today.