Wed. May 29th, 2024

GOP clashes, campus protests to take center stage as Congress returns

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May24,2024

Congress is set to reconvene this week amid bitter GOP infighting and explosive protests on college campuses nationwide, two issues that are expected to dominate chatter on Capitol Hill in the coming days.

In the House, which returns on Monday, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) is again in hot water with his right flank after the top Republican muscled a foreign aid package that included $61 billion for Ukraine through the lower chamber over sharp objections from hardline conservatives.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-La.), as a result, is refusing to relent on her motion-to-vacate threat, warning Johnson that she may force a vote on his ouster. Key questions, however, remain regarding when — or even if — Greene will put that plan in motion, especially as conservatives come out against her effort and former President Trump triples down on his support for Johnson.

Also this week, lawmakers are likely to weigh in on the pro-Palestine protests roiling college campuses across the country that are pitting some members — especially Democrats — against one another as the Israel-Hamas war continues.

And both chambers are poised to discuss reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration, as Congress stares down a May 10 deadline to extend its funding authorities. The Senate is scheduled to return to session on Tuesday.

GOP infighting to dominate amid Greene ouster threat

House GOP infighting is set to be in the spotlight this week as Greene continues to dangle her threat to oust Johnson from the top job — and more Republicans come out against the effort — a dynamic that will be on full display as the lower chamber returns with few must-pass priorities left on the year’s to-do list.

Greene, who filed her motion to vacate more than a month ago, warned as recently as Sunday that the Louisiana Republican cannot remain as the top House Republican.

“Johnson will do whatever Biden/Schumer want in order to keep the Speaker’s gavel in his hand, but he has completely sold out the Republican voters who gave us the majority. His days as Speaker are numbered,” she wrote on X.

But the congresswoman has not yet said when she plans to trigger a vote on his ouster, a question that has become more elusive after Trump threw his support behind the Speaker, and as a growing number of hardline conservatives come out against her effort — even as they harbor frustrations with Johnson.

“Where I disagree with Marjorie and I told her that we’re going to have an election coming up, we have got to win this election to preserve the country,” Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) said on Fox Business last week. “Now, if you ask most Americans who’s the next Speaker, is that at the top of their agenda? No, inflation, the border, crime all the above.”

Only two Republicans have publicly backed her effort so far: Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.).

Greene left Washington earlier this month saying she wanted her colleagues to hear from their constituents after the House approved a foreign aid package that included billions of dollars in Ukraine aid.

Another dynamic that has muddied Greene’s path forward is Democrats’ willingness to step in and save Johnson from a conservative coup, a layer of support that former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) did not have.

A number of Democrats — both more liberal and moderate members — have said they would protect Johnson if Greene forced a vote on his ouster, creating a math problem for the GOP rabble-rouser as she looks to remove the Speaker from his post.

“The idea of letting her sit in the people’s House and the well of Congress, giving a speech, removing any speaker and having that powerful moment, there is just no way Democrats are going to let her do that,” Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) said on MSNBC’s “The Weekend” Sunday. “I’m not going to let her do that. We won’t even let her name a post office. We’re not going to let her take out the Speaker.”

He noted, however, that the Democratic caucus will “wait for [House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.)] to figure out a solution.” Jeffries told The New York Times in February that “a reasonable number” of Democrats would back Johnson, and told reporters earlier this month that those dynamics have not changed.

“That statement still stands,” he said.

Lawmakers respond to college campus protests

Reaction to the pro-Palestine protests roiling college campuses across the country is sure to command the conversation on Capitol Hill this week, as Republicans and pro-Israel Democrats look to condemn the demonstrations while some liberals stand with the protesters amid concerns about the mounting humanitarian .crisis in Gaza.

The House this week is slated to vote on a bill — titled the Antisemitism Awareness Act — that would require the Education Department to use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism when applying anti-discrimination laws.

The IHRA’s working definition explains antisemitism in-part as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews,” and lists examples such as calling for the harming of Jews and accusing them of exaggerating the Holocaust.

The legislative push comes after House members from both parties fanned out across the country last week to speak in opposition to — or in solidarity with — the pro-Palestine protests taking place on college campuses.

Johnson and a group of GOP lawmakers held a press conference at Columbia University, where the Speaker denounced the encampment on campus, urged students to return to class and floated moving legislation that would cut off federal funding for universities that do not harbor a safe environment for Jewish students. Days before, a cohort of Jewish Democrats met with Jewish students at Columbia and called on university administrators to take more action to protect Jewish students.

In that same week, Rep Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), one of three Muslim lawmakers in Congress, spoke with pro-Palestine demonstrators at the University of Minnesota, telling them that their effort is “just and righteous and morally correct,” and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez met with protesters at Columbia.

Congress readies for FAA reauthorization

Conversations about reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are sure to come up this week, as Congress stares down a May 10 deadline to re-approve its funding authority.

Reauthorizing the FAA is one of the final must-pass priorities on Congress’s agenda, after lawmakers successfully funded the government through September and extended the U.S.’s warrantless surveillance powers. Both chambers also moved a foreign aid package earlier this month, which President Biden signed into law.

Congress has already passed three short-term FAA extensions in recent months, with the latest one moving in late February.

The House approved an FAA reauthorization bill in July that would fund the agency for five years, but the Senate has not passed its own version of the legislation amid disagreements over language pertaining to requirements for pilot training.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), the chair of the House GOP conference, wrote on X Sunday that “Congress is in the final stages of negotiating the FAA reauthorization package.”

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “GOP clashes, campus protests to take center stage as Congress returns”
  1. As a politically engaged citizen, it’s disheartening to witness the ongoing GOP infighting and campus protests taking the forefront. The clashes within the party only serve to distract from the real issues at hand and hinder progress in addressing key national matters. Let’s hope for a more unified and constructive approach from our elected officials as they return to the Capitol.

  2. It’s concerning to see the bitter infighting within the GOP as they return to Congress. The clashes between members only seem to intensify, and it’s crucial for them to focus on effective governance rather than internal discord.

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