House Speaker Mike Johnson has—gasp!—compromised again. The latest version of the $886 billion National Defense Authorization Act, unveiled late Wednesday, does not include Republican measures to block the Pentagon’s abortion travel policy and its policy of providing transition care for transgender troops.
Far-right Republicans did get to keep assorted poison-pill provisions on race, including a ban on critical race theory in the military and moves against diversity, equity, and inclusion staffing and programs in the military. But the compromise there is noteworthy, especially following the collapse of Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s blockade on military promotions to protest the abortion travel policy.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, for one, is not happy. “Is the GOP really going to fund abortion vacations and trans surgeries, fund the Ukraine war, all with a CLEAN FISA extension under Speaker Johnson?” she tweeted. “This was a total sell-out of conservative principles and a huge win for Democrats.”
She added, ”I’m a HELL NO!”
Rep. Chip Roy tweeted, “So the @HouseGOP is going to work with Democrats to pass a crappy, watered down NDAA (losing most of the stuff we fought for - abortion, transgender, CRT/DEI) along with an almost 4 month continuation of FISA (spying on Americans with no reforms yet)?” He added #NameOneThing, a reminder of his rant on the House floor last month:
One thing. I want my Republican colleagues to give me one thing, One. That I can go campaign on and say we did. One! Anybody sitting in the complex, if you want to come down to the floor and come explain to me one material, meaningful, significant thing the Republican majority has done besides ‘Well, I guess it’s not as bad as the Democrats.’
I guess he doesn’t think this NDAA is one material, meaningful, significant thing.
FRC Action, the lobbying arm of the right-wing evangelical Family Research Council, is opposing the bill.
Johnson will likely require Democratic votes yet again to keep things moving through the House, a pattern that is grating on the extremists who have time and time again defined what is possible or acceptable for Republican leadership. Politico reports that the NDAA may be brought up under suspension of the rules, which makes things easier by dispensing with procedural votes where the far right has wrought havoc recently, but requires a two-thirds supermajority to pass.
It's not every day that the House expels one of its own, so of course we're talking about George Santos getting the boot on this week's episode of The Downballot. Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard discuss the deep fracture inside the GOP that the expulsion vote, then handicap the special election to replace Congress' newest ex-member. They also dive into the absolutely wild New York Times report detailing how former Rep. Tom Suozzi had to grovel before Gov. Kathy Hochul to earn her approval to run in that February election.