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House Republican says ‘it’s possible’ Johnson could lose Speakership over Ukraine aid

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) acknowledged Sunday the possibility that Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) could lose his position if he moves to hold a vote on aid to Ukraine.

When asked on NBC News’s “Meet the Press” if he believes Johnson could lose the gavel over passing Ukraine aid, Bacon said, “It’s possible, I’m not going to deny it. We have one or two people that are not team players. They’d rather enjoy the limelight, the social media.”

Bacon noted the GOP’s razor-thin majority, which will be reduced to one seat when Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) retires from Congress in mid-April.

“And the fact is with the one-seat majority — and we’ll end up with a three- or four-seat majority after some special elections — out of 435 people, it’s a very narrow majority,” he said. “And one or two people can make this a minority. And I’m of the view you work with the team. I don’t have to get 100 percent.”

Johnson told lawmakers he plans to take up aid for Ukraine when Congress returns to Washington in mid-April after the holiday recess. Some conservative spending hawks are against continued aid to the embattled nation, which is going into its third year of war with Russia.

Last month, the Louisiana Republican refused to consider a Senate-passed foreign aid package that would have included $60 billion for Ukraine because of its lack of border security measures. He has since floated giving aid to Ukraine in the form of a loan.

Earlier this month, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) filed a motion to vacate the Speakership, a procedural move that could lead to a vote to remove Johnson. The motion came after Johnson helped pass a large spending package to prevent a partial government shutdown just hours before the deadline. The package had votes from both sides of the aisle, but it angered House conservatives.

Bacon on Sunday said he believes there will be Democrats who “do not want to see this dysfunction” and could vote present, or not attend the vote on the motion.

“But it is very likely that after this Ukraine bill, we may have a standoff with the Speaker. I hope the Speaker prevails. He’s doing the right thing. It’s in our national security interest that Ukraine remains independent,” he said.

Some House Democrats indicated earlier this month they might be open to rescuing Johnson from any motion to oust him, though some said it will depend on how he handles Ukraine aid.

Bacon received a “commitment” from Johnson and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) that legislation for Ukraine aid will be put on the floor, he said Sunday.

“I’m optimistic we’re going to get this done in two weeks. I just want to ensure it’s bicameral because I don’t want to just send a bill over to the Senate and it doesn’t go anywhere,” he said.

Johnson has been Speaker since last October, when he replaced former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who was ousted through a motion to vacate the position. McCarthy’s historic ousting prompted nearly three weeks of chaos that paralyzed the House from normal business, and some Democrats appear more open to avoiding a repeat of that situation.

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