Republican House majority goes from bad to worse as another lawmaker announces plans to leave early

Joanna Walters

Mike Gallagher outside the Capitol, where he will soon no longer work.
Mike Gallagher outside the Capitol, where he will soon no longer work. Photograph: Bonnie Cash/UPI/REX/Shutterstock

Republican congressman Mike Gallagher announced he will resign his seat on 19 April, further winnowing down the GOP’s already slim control of the House.

Gallagher had earlier this year announced plans not to seek re-election, but now says he will leave his seat early, dropping the Republicans’ slim majority to 217 seats, with Democrats holding 213 seats. That means Republicans can only lose one member on votes that Democrats oppose unanimously.

“After conversations with my family, I have made the decision to resign my position as a member of the House of Representatives for Wisconsin’s Eighth Congressional District, effective April 19, 2024,” Gallagher said in a surprise statement.

He noted that he “worked closely with House Republican leadership on this timeline” and “my office will continue to operate and provide constituent services to the Eighth District for the remainder of the term.”

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Key events

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre offered well wishes to the Princess of Wales following her announcement that she has been diagnosed with cancer:

.@PressSec: “We just heard the terrible news. Our thoughts are with the Duchess of Cambridge and her family members and friends during this incredibly difficult time, and certainly we wish her a full recovery.” pic.twitter.com/YV1OWDz425

— CSPAN (@cspan) March 22, 2024

We have a live blog covering that breaking story out of the UK, and you can read it here:

Recall that Mike Johnson became House speaker after eight Republicans joined with every House Democrat to vote Kevin McCarthy out of the job.

If Marjorie Taylor Greene could assemble a line up like that again, Johnson’s speakership would be at real risk. But CNN reports that at least two Democrats aren’t interested in playing along, perhaps signaling a broader shift in sentiment among the caucus.

Virginia Democrat Abigail Spanberger indicates that if Johnson allowed a vote on aid to Israel and Ukraine, she’d be in favor of keeping him around:

“If he does the responsible thing which is allowing members of Congress to vote on a bill that will pass and is in our national security interests and then subsequent to that a nonserious actor who does not want to govern brings a motion to vacate, yes, I would motion to table in…

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 22, 2024

New York’s Tom Suozzi, who was not around in October, when McCarthy was booted, said he wouldn’t support the effort either:

Several Dems signaling they’ll save Mike Johnson — especially if he moves on Ukraine aid.
Tom Suozzi tells me he will vote to save him pic.twitter.com/8y53xNEb1j

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 22, 2024

Asked at the ongoing White House press briefing about Marjorie Taylor Greene’s motion to remove Mike Johnson as speaker of the House, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre managed to simultaneously say nothing, and everything.

“We’re just not going to speak to what’s going on with the leadership,” she said, at the tail end of a lengthy reply that amounted to a recitation of Joe Biden’s accomplishments.

But Jean-Pierre could not resist making light of the latest troubles Republicans are having hanging on to Congress’s lower chamber.

“I guess … get your popcorn, sit tight,” she said, as she concluded her answer.

Hugo Lowell

Hugo Lowell

The federal judge overseeing Donald Trump’s prosecution on charges of retaining classified documents disclosed that she had granted some requests by special counsel prosecutors to withhold discovery materials from the former president – but had reserved making a decision on others.

In an eight-page order, US district judge Aileen Cannon wrote that she had allowed special counsel Jack Smith to substitute summaries or make redactions to two categories of classified documents that Trump was entitled to have access to through the discovery process.

Cannon also disclosed that she had allowed prosecutors to entirely withhold a third category of documents neither “helpful nor relevant” to Trump’s defense theories – the legal standard to withhold discovery in national security cases – and reserved ruling on a fourth category of documents.

Donald Trump campaigns in Greensboro, North Carolina, on 2 March 2024. Aileen M Cannon, United States District Judge, Southern District of Florida. Composite: AP, Southern District of Florida

Trump was indicted last year for retaining national security documents at his Mar-a-Lago club, under the Espionage Act, meaning the case is proceeding to trial under the complicated and sequential steps laid out in the Classified Information Procedures Act, or Cipa.

To protect against unnecessary disclosure of national security cases, under section 4 of Cipa, prosecutors can request to withhold certain classified documents from defendants.

Cannon granted prosecutors’ requests to give Trump summaries of category 3 documents (classified documents related to a potential trial witness) and to keep away from Trump all documents in category 4 (classified documents which Cannon did not identify but wrote were not helpful or relevant to Trump).

Cannon disclosed in her order that she had reserved ruling on some of the documents because they were tied up in a separate motion filed by Trump requesting additional discovery materials about bias within the US intelligence community that would help his defense.

The concession was significant because it indicated Cannon had still not decided what to do with Trump’s sweeping request for more discovery, which Trump’s lawyers filed more than two months ago, and appears to increasingly be contributing to major delays in the case.

This image, contained in the indictment against former President Donald Trump, and partially redacted by source, shows boxes of records being stored on the stage in the White and Gold Ballroom at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Photograph: AP

Republican House majority goes from bad to worse as another lawmaker announces plans to leave early

Joanna Walters

Joanna Walters

Mike Gallagher outside the Capitol, where he will soon no longer work. Photograph: Bonnie Cash/UPI/REX/Shutterstock

Republican congressman Mike Gallagher announced he will resign his seat on 19 April, further winnowing down the GOP’s already slim control of the House.

Gallagher had earlier this year announced plans not to seek re-election, but now says he will leave his seat early, dropping the Republicans’ slim majority to 217 seats, with Democrats holding 213 seats. That means Republicans can only lose one member on votes that Democrats oppose unanimously.

“After conversations with my family, I have made the decision to resign my position as a member of the House of Representatives for Wisconsin’s Eighth Congressional District, effective April 19, 2024,” Gallagher said in a surprise statement.

He noted that he “worked closely with House Republican leadership on this timeline” and “my office will continue to operate and provide constituent services to the Eighth District for the remainder of the term.”

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Maya Yang

In the latest twist in the power struggle between the right-wing leaders of Texas and the federal government, a group of migrants got into a struggle with Texas National Guard troops under the control of the governor yesterday – while they were waiting to turn themselves in to federal border patrol agents to request asylum.

In footage that dominated morning news TV in the US on Friday, ABC reported that border agents said that troops under state control were trying to corral and apprehend a group of migrants stuck behind one of Texas governor Greg Abbott’s razor wire fences in El Paso, which was installed as part of Abbott’s controversial Operation Lone Star program.

The people were on US soil and the fence was on public land, ABC reported.

Speaking to the El Paso Times, migrants said that Texas national guard soldiers were forcefully pushing them back behind the fencing in US territory. In a caption accompanying a video of the border unrest, Mexican journalist J Omar Ornelas wrote, “Hundreds of migrants were pushed south of the concertina wire in the middle of the night by Texas National Guard. Hours later they again breached the concertina and made a rush for the border wall in El Paso, Texas.”

During the unrest, some migrants appeared to raise their hands in surrender while others ran to the federal border wall. Customs and Border Patrol later said the group had been moved elsewhere for processing.

Earlier this week, Texas was thrust into a state of confusion after an appeals court blocked a controversial new state law that would allow local police to arrest anyone that they believe entered the US illegally – a jurisdiction typically granted to federal immigration authorities, not local police. The freeze came just hours after the US supreme court allowed the law to go into effect.

The day so far

The good news for Republican House speaker Mike Johnson is that his chamber managed to pass legislation to prevent a partial government shutdown that is set to begin at midnight. The bad news is that the bill was supported by more Democrats than Republicans, and rightwing congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene subsequently introduced a motion to kick him out of the speaker’s chair. Greene took issue with his approach to government spending, and specifically his collaboration with Democrats, but noted she viewed the motion as “a warning”, and did not say when she would call it up for a vote. House lawmakers are now heading out for a two-week recess, and the saga will likely continue after they return. As for the government shutdown threat, it’s now up to the Democratic-led Senate to pass the House’s bill, which Joe Biden says he will sign. They are expected to do that later today.

Here’s what else is going on:

  • Russia and China vetoed an attempt by the United States to win UN security council approval of a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

  • Donald Trump has reportedly unveiled a new funding strategy that will see donations channeled to a group that is paying his substantial legal bills.

  • Trump’s social media firm is going public after a shareholder voter, meaning the ex-president will soon be $3b richer.

Johnson calls funding bill ‘best achievable outcome’

Republican House speaker Mike Johnson has issued an upbeat statement on the government funding measure, saying it enacted some conservative policies and was the best-case scenario for the GOP, considering Democrats control the Senate and White House.

“House Republicans achieved conservative policy wins, rejected extreme Democrat proposals, and imposed substantial cuts while significantly strengthening national defense. The process was also an important step in breaking the omnibus muscle memory and represents the best achievable outcome in a divided government,” the speaker said.

He did not comment on the motion to remove him as the House’s leader, which was filed by rightwing lawmaker Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Marjorie Taylor Greene has tweeted an image of her resolution to remove fellow Republican Mike Johnson as speaker:

It does not appear to be privileged, meaning it does not have to be voted on before lawmakers depart for their two-week recess, which they are scheduled to do later today.

Asked earlier about her timeline for the removal push, Greene said the motion is “filed but it’s not voted on. It only gets voted on until I call it to the floor for a vote.”

She did not say when she will do that.

Marjorie Taylor Greene listed a ream of grievances against Mike Johnson, much of which centered on his approach to funding the government.

She noted that, since become speaker in late October, he allowed votes on short-term measures to keep the government open, and gave lawmakers less than 72 hours to consider the just-passed legislation to prevent a partial shutdown that would have begun at midnight.

Greene did not like any of that:

This is a betrayal of the American people. This is a betrayal of Republican voters. And the bill that we were forced to vote on forced Republicans to choose between funding to pay our soldiers and, in doing so, funding late-term abortion. This bill was basically a dream and a wish list for Democrats and for the White House. It was completely led by Chuck Schumer, not our Republican speaker of the House, not our conference, and we weren’t even allowed to put amendments to the floor to have a chance to make changes to the bill.

Rightwing congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene confirms effort to remove Mike Johnson over government funding

Speaking to reporters outside the Capitol, rightwing Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene confirmed she has filed a motion to remove Mike Johnson as House speaker, but described it as “a warning” rather than an attempt to boot him.

The Georgia lawmaker cited Johnson’s approach to funding the government, and criticized him for working with Democrats.

“I filed a motion to vacate today, but it’s more of a warning and a pink slip,” she said. “I do not wish to inflict pain on our conference and to throw the House in chaos, but this is basically a warning and it’s time for us to go through the process, take our time and find a new speaker of the house that will stand with Republicans and our Republican majority instead of standing with the Democrats.”

We have yet to hear rightwing Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene explain why she wants to remove Mike Johnson as speaker of the House.

But it may have something to do with his cooperation with Democrats to prevent a partial government shutdown. More Democrats than Republicans supported the just-passed $1.2tn funding measure that authorizes spending in federal departments where it has not already been approved:

286–134: House passes $1.2T six-bill minibus for FY 2024, funding the government through Sept. 30.

More Democrats (185) than Republicans (101) voted in favor of the bill.

The legislation now heads to the Senate ahead of midnight deadline to avert a partial government shutdown.… pic.twitter.com/bLgF738qA2

— CSPAN (@cspan) March 22, 2024

Rightwing lawmakers have made clear that Republican leadership should not work with Democrats. In fact, it was a similar scenario that led to Kevin McCarthy’s removal as House speaker in October. He struck a deal with the Democratic minority to prevent a shutdown, and days later was out of the job:

House passes funding bill to prevent partial government shutdown

The House has approved a $1.2tn government funding bill that will prevent a partial shutdown, with 286 votes in favor against 134 opposed.

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill later today, and Joe Biden has said he will sign it.





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