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Johnson won’t remove conservative hard-liners from critical committee

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Despite private pressure from centrists, Speaker Mike Johnson said Wednesday that he would not remove three conservative hard-liners from the powerful Rules Committee, where they’ve heavily impeded getting GOP bills to the floor.

The panel is typically comprised of lawmakers who are closely allied with leadership, as most bills that get floor votes have to go through those lawmakers. But GOP Reps. Chip Roy (Texas), Ralph Norman (S.C.) and Thomas Massie (Ky.) have hamstrung that process, either blocking bills or forcing Johnson to find a way around the panel several times since he took over the House in October.

Most recently, the trio opposed a rule setting up floor debate on the sprawling foreign aid package, forcing the unusual step of Democrats providing the votes to get it through committee. But Johnson said he isn’t considering removing them from the panel, despite his conference’s internal frustrations.

“If I start kicking people off committees right now, it’s likely that I cause more problems than it solves,” Johnson told “The Hugh Hewitt Show” on Wednesday, adding that “there are actions and then there are reactions and reverberations from the actions” given House GOP leaders’ one-vote margin.

Norman late last week said that Johnson hadn’t indicated to him that he was considering booting him from the committee, while other conservatives in the conference were skeptical that the speaker would take that sort of step, since it would be viewed as retribution and out of sync with his leadership style.

In the interview, Johnson also defended his handling of the foreign aid package providing assistance to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, even as some conservatives have vowed its passage would result in a vote to oust him from the speakership. So far, they have not triggered that push.

“History is going to judge this well. It was the right thing to do,” Johnson said. “The perception of a strong America is essential on the world stage — and I think the Congress has acted to make sure that happens.”

The Senate overwhelmingly passed the measure late Tuesday evening, sending it to President Joe Biden, following House passage over the weekend. Biden is expected to sign it Wednesday.

The speaker also predicted Republicans would regain the Senate, expand their House majority and that former President Donald Trump would regain the White House this fall.

“We’re gonna have an extraordinary election cycle in November,” Johnson said. “We’ll be able to turn this thing 180 degrees.”

Jordain Carney contributed to this report.