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Johnson Has a Tough Job. McCarthy’s Concessions Are Making It Tougher.

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Speaker Mike Johnson’s push to advance an aid package for Ukraine in the face of vehement opposition from his own party was never going to be easy.

But it has been made even more politically perilous by a pair of concessions to the far right that he inherited from his predecessor: allowing a single lawmaker to call a snap vote to oust the speaker, and giving ultraconservatives a bloc of seats on a crucial panel that controls what legislation can make it to the House floor.

Both of those concessions, agreed to by former Speaker Kevin McCarthy more than a year ago, are now tormenting Mr. Johnson as he tries to push through a $95 billion aid bill for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. They have hemmed him in to having to rely heavily on Democrats — not only to clear the way for the legislation and drag it across the finish line, but potentially to save his job.

Mr. Johnson’s predicament was on vivid display on the House floor on Thursday as a group of ultraconservatives huddled around him in a heated back and forth. One after another, they urged the speaker to tie the foreign aid package to stringent anti-immigration measures, but Mr. Johnson pushed back, replying that he would not have enough Republican support to advance such a measure, according to people involved in the private conversation.

Minutes after the clash, some hard-right lawmakers who previously resisted joining the G.O.P. push to oust him began to sound more open to the idea.

“My hope was that the motion to vacate would be an elixir that only required one dose for effectiveness,” said Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, who led the ouster of Mr. McCarthy. “But sometimes there are some therapies that require more than one dose. And I hope that’s not the case with the motion to vacate, but we’ll administer the elixir as many times as is necessary to save the country.”

Mr. Johnson has said that he had “not asked a single Democrat to get involved” in helping him fend off an attempt to remove him.

“I do not spend time walking around thinking about the motion to vacate,” he told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday. “I have a job to do here, and I’m going to do the job regardless of personal consequences.”

At the same time, three ultraconservatives on the House Rules Committee signaled on Thursday that they intended to block Mr. Johnson’s attempts to bring the foreign aid bill to the floor, but late that night, the speaker took the extraordinary step of relying on Democratic votes in committee to advance the measure.

On Wednesday night, those same Republicans — Representatives Chip Roy of Texas, Ralph Norman of South Carolina and Thomas Massie of Kentucky — indicated that they would also block a border security bill from coming to the floor after Mr. Johnson proposed bringing it up separately. The measure was an attempt to placate hard-liners who have demanded that the speaker not advance aid to Ukraine without securing sweeping concessions from Democrats on immigration policy.

“I believe this is part of a larger effort to push something through for very politically expedient purposes that I’m on record as disagreeing with,” Mr. Roy said, explaining his opposition to allowing the immigration measure to come up on its own.

The only acceptable solution, he argued, was to fold it into the foreign aid package.

Mr. Johnson said that was simply not possible.

“I don’t have all my Republicans who agree on that rule,” he said on Fox News on Wednesday. “And that means the only way to get a rule on the floor, is it requires a couple of Democrats. Well, they’re not for the border security. That’s not their policy.”

The mutiny in the Rules Committee amounted to a major breach of custom. The panel has traditionally been an organ of the speaker, and legislation is typically advanced to the floor in a straight party-line vote. Until this Congress, it was considered an inviolable edict that lawmakers never voted against a rule advanced by their party on the House floor — much less in committee.

But the seeds of that breach were sown last January by Mr. McCarthy, who, as he grasped for the votes to become speaker, agreed to give the ultraconservatives three seats on the committee — enough to tank a rule.

The idea was that their bloc on the panel would mean that the hard right had veto power over what the House could consider, but the result instead has been that both Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Johnson have steered around the committee. They have brought up critical measures such as bills to keep the government funded without any rules.

And in the case of the foreign aid bill — as with the debt limit deal Mr. McCarthy reached last year with President Biden — they have turned to Democrats for the votes necessary to bring up measures that members of their own party would not countenance.

Ever since they won their seats, the three ultraconservatives have largely voted to allow bills they disagreed with to come to the floor for a vote. At least one member, Mr. Massie, previously said he would not let his personal ideology dictate his vote on the committee.

But Mr. Johnson’s determination to advance the foreign aid package changed that.

“Speaker Johnson plans to pass the rule for the $100 billion foreign aid package using Democrats on the Rules Committee,” Mr. Massie, who has now endorsed Mr. Johnson’s ouster, wrote on social media. “Is he working for Democrats or Republicans now?”

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia Republican who has introduced a resolution to remove Mr. Johnson, lauded the blockade, citing it as evidence that “people are really done with Johnson’s B.S.”

“I’m really thankful Kevin McCarthy appointed these strong conservatives to the Rules Committee,” she said.

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