AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Rules Committee Clears Foreign Aid Bills for Vote, Speaker Johnson Leaves ‘Motion to Vacate’ Rule Alone

The foreign aid bills for Israel, Taiwan, and Ukraine are headed to the House floor for a vote after a contentious meeting of the House Rules Committee. As I posted yesterday, Speaker Mike Johnson was forced to rely on the votes of the Democrat members of the Rules Committee after the predicted defection of Freedom Caucus members  Ralph Norman (SC), Chip Roy (TX), and Thomas Massie (KY). 


House Freedom Caucus in Uproar Over Ukraine Funding Bill and Shock Move to Stop Vacate-the-Chair Votes

READ: Text of Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan Bills Released, and That Ukraine ‘Loan’ Provision Is Quite Curious

Speaker Johnson Establishes Rules for Israel/Taiwan/Ukraine Aid Bills; Vote Set for Saturday

The four bills — three foreign aid and one catchall bill that includes the Senate’s REPO Act, the bill forcing the sale of TikTok, and other assorted items aimed at Russia and China — will each be subject to amendments and a separate vote. They will be rolled together into a single bill that will not receive a separate vote. (For background on this technique, read COMPASS: THE HOUSE GOES MIRV-ING).

The second issue resolved is the vote threshold for a “motion to vacate the chair,” that is, to replace the House Speaker. Under the current rules, any member can make a “privileged” motion to declare the speakership vacant. This is how Kevin McCarthy was deposed. There were rumors that the Rules Committee was considering changing that rule back to the way it functioned under Nancy Pelosi, where a majority of the majority party had to agree on such a motion to bring it to a vote. That Sturm und Drang is behind us now.

According to Axios, that idea had been considered, but it was dropped because of the price Democrats were demanding for their support.

Why it matters: Multiple House Republicans were surprised Johnson said he lacked the votes to change how many members it takes to bring up a motion to vacate.

  • Among moderates, the sentiment Thursday — without clear evidence of any ask — is that Democrats must have asked for more than Johnson was willing to give in exchange for their help to change the rule.
  • Johnson’s office declined to comment.

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