Greene Backs Off Johnson Threat, but Issues Four Demands

Greene Backs Off Johnson Threat, but Issues Four Demands

MTG meets the press.
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By Yuval Rosenberg and Michael Rainey
Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Good evening. In a speech today at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Days of Remembrance ceremony, President Joe Biden decried a “ferocious surge of antisemitism in American and around the world” after the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas.

“I understand people have strong beliefs and deep convictions about the world. In America, we respect and protect the fundamental right to free speech, to debate, disagree, to protest peacefully and make our voices heard” Biden said. “But there is no place on any campus in America, any place in America, for antisemitism or hate speech or threats of violence of any kind.”

The president has faced pressure and criticism over his support for Israel and its war in Gaza, which has had a massive toll on civilians. The Biden administration reportedly has put a hold on the sale of two types of munitions to Israel as it pressures the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to follow through on declared plans for a military campaign in the city of Rafah. But Biden said Tuesday his commitment to Israel, its security and its right to exist “is ironclad, even when we disagree.”

Here's what else is going on.

Greene Issues 4 Demands but Backs Off Johnson Ouster Threat

Donald Trump may be spending much of his time in a New York courtroom these days — adult film actress Stormy Daniels took a salacious star turn testifying in the hush-money criminal case today — but the former president and presumptive 2024 Republican nominee is still managing to exert massive influence over GOP politics.

Case in point: In a phone call over the weekend, Trump reportedly urged Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to drop her ouster threat against House Speaker Mike Johnson, arguing for Republican Party unity.

Greene met with Johnson for a second straight day Tuesday and appeared to back off her pledge to force a vote this week on Johnson’s job, though she insisted the speaker only has a brief window to respond to her demands.

“Right now the ball is in Mike Johnson’s court,” Greene told reporters. “I am so done with words. For me, it’s all about actions.”

The Georgia firebrand publicly issued four key demands, including that Johnson commit to abiding by the so-called Hastert Rule, which holds that the speaker should only allow floor votes on bills supported by a majority of the majority. The Ukraine funding bill Johnson brought to a vote last month passed with bipartisan support even as more Republicans voted against it than for it. “Had he obeyed the Hastert Rule, guess what, $61 billion would not have gone to Ukraine,” Greene told Steve Bannon’s “War Room,” referring to the aid package.

Greene is also seeking to block any further funding for Ukraine, defund the Justice Department special counsel’s investigation into Trump and cut federal spending by 1% if lawmakers don’t approve 12 individual appropriations bills for fiscal year 2025. “If we don’t get our 12 separate appropriation bills, we’ll have to do a 1% cut to spending or we won’t do anything at all,” Greene told Bannon, indicating a willingness to force a government shutdown.

Greene later told reporters she did not set a deadline for Johnson to respond, “but it’s pretty short.”

For his part, Johnson reportedly insisted that the meetings with Greene were “not a negotiation” and that he was simply listening to ideas from his members. (Check out his reaction here when asked about her timeframe for a response.) But the speaker also said he was optimistic that the standoff could be resolved. Before the meeting, he expressed confidence that he would be able “to lead this conference in the future” — and again sought to emphasize his backing from the key figure in Republican politics, saying he is “glad to have the support of President Trump.”

The bottom line: It remains to be seen what concessions Johnson might make to Greene, but some Republicans are already worried that he might empower her by agreeing to some of her demands. Asked if he harbored such concerns, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise summed up the GOP’s dilemma with a historically narrow majority: “All our members are empowered right now,” he said, according to CNN. “It is a time where everybody knows we either all move in the same direction or we are not going to be able to advance our agenda for that particular week. We’ve got to stay united.”

Biden Admin Announce $5.5 Billion for Affordable Housing and Homeless Assistance

The White House announced Tuesday that it plans to allocate $5.5 billion in grants to build affordable housing and provide assistance to homeless people across the country.

The grants will flow through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which will issue roughly 2,400 grants targeting 1,200 communities. “These annual formula grants provide critical funding for a wide range of activities to address their most pressing local needs, providing flexible resources to build homes, support renters and homeowners, provide life-saving assistance to people experiencing homelessness, create jobs, and improve public facilities, community resilience, and local economies,” HUD said in a press release.

The funding will support a number of programs, including:

* $3.3 billion for Community Development Block Grants;

* $1.3 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which provides affordable housing for low-income households;

* $455 million for housing and support for people with HIV/AIDS;

* $290 million for Emergency Solutions Grants, which provide funds for homeless shelters and related social services.

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