Jeffries declines to take position on saving Speaker from conservative coup

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D.N.Y.) declined to say Thursday whether he would help protect House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) from a conservative revolt. .

in New York Times interview A day earlier, Democratic leaders had suggested that a “significant number” of Democrats in their caucus would cross the aisle to keep Johnson in power in the face of a coup — with the speaker not a foreign ally. If you agree to consider legislation that would provide assistance to. Ukraine.

On Thursday, Mr. Jeffries emphasized that he was not stating his own position, but merely making his assessment based on “observations” of members of his caucus.

“The comments I made on this issue speak for themselves,” Jeffries told reporters at the Capitol. “The only comments I have made on this matter are observations, not firm declarations.”

Since receiving the Speaker’s gavel in October, Mr Johnson has said: he supports further military aid For Ukraine. But former President Trump has voiced opposition to the aid, and Johnson is under intense pressure from conservatives in the Republican conference not to bring such a bill to the floor.

Amid the fight, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) vowed to force the vote if Johnson did. This is a significant threat, since the new House rules state that one member can cast a vote. motion.

Democrats are looking for a way to pass the Ukraine bill and have already said they will help Johnson survive the motion to expel him if he agrees to certain conditions, including consideration of the Senate-passed bill. are doing. Foreign aid package.

“It’s the same thing that I said to Mr. McCarthy, ‘Talk to Hakeem. There are people who can support you,'” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) said last month, referring to former House Speaker Kevin.・Said while referring to Mr. McCarthy (Republican, California). He was ousted from his leadership post last year by disgruntled conservatives. “I would say the same thing. [to Johnson]”

More recently, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) conveyed a similar message.

“If we get a vote on the spending bill and a vote on the supplemental bill, I think enough Democrats will not remove Mr. Johnson as speaker,” Smith said. “That’s just my opinion.”

Mr Jeffries said in an interview with the Times that he did not miss the messages sent by party members.

“Based on private conversations, it seems to me that Chairman Johnson did the right thing in meeting the important national security needs of the American people by putting this up for a yes or no vote. “I think there are a significant number of people in the House Democratic caucus who will take the position that he shouldn’t be ousted as a result of that,” Jeffries told the Times on Wednesday.

The debate is taking a different turn than the one that preceded McCarthy’s firing in early October. A number of Democrats also offered their support in this case, but a resolute Mr. McCarthy declined to do so, expressing his confidence that he would “hold on” despite the slim majority.

This strategy backfired, and all Democrats voted to remove him from office.

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