Speaker Johnson’s First Major Test; Plus — Nikki Haley, Still Surging
Author: Greg Valliere
October 30, 2023
THE HARD-LINERS are aghast at the prospect of still another budget extension, and they want something in return for their votes, probably spending cuts and new provisions to tighten restrictions on the U.S.-Mexico border. Johnson is inclined to support them, but even if he and the activists get their way, passage in the Senate would be difficult.
EVEN MORE CONTROVERSIAL is the House reluctance to approve a large aid package to Ukraine. Democrats and most Senators want a bill that would combine Ukraine aid with funding for Israel, but Johnson and conservatives in the House are determined to just do the latter — perhaps an Israeli package of about $15 billion, and something far below the $61 billion that President Biden wants for Ukraine.
OUR BOTTOM LINE is that aid to Israel should pass quickly, but a separate Ukraine bill may stall, with an eventual package that’s far less generous than Biden’s proposal. Johnson is in a bind — if he blocks Ukraine aid, he will be accused of abandoning Kyiv, but if he agrees to a major spending package, House conservatives will howl.
IT’S JUST A MATTER OF TIME before Johnson has a fierce battle with Republicans, with an explicit threat that he could get the boot. The next fight may pit him against moderates, which may revive speculation that he would have to seek votes from Democrats. That didn’t work out well for Kevin McCarthy.
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THE NIKKI HALEY PHENOMENON: The remarkable surge of support for Nikki Haley continues; she’s now in second place in New Hampshire and many other early voting states. With Mike Pence out of the race, and Tim Scott on very thin ice, Haley has become a serious challenger — and, clearly, the leader of defense hawks as the GOP nomination battle takes shape.
TRUMP’S SULLEN PRESENCE in a New York courtroom may not be helping him — his poll numbers are down slightly and suddenly Haley has generated a buzz. Ron DeSantis, the ascendant Republican a year ago, has slipped into third place in several states.
WE STILL THINK TRUMP IS THE LIKELY NOMINEE, provided his health is sound, but momentum is moving toward Haley. Could she pull off an upset in New Hampshire in January? It’s a quirky state that has produced some epic upsets. For now, we’ll simply predict that she might pierce the aura of invincibility around Trump.
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