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Johnson warned against making ‘side deals’ with GOP rebels: Don’t ‘grease a squeaky wheel’

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House Republicans are warning Speaker Johnson, R-La., against making any potential ‘side deals’ with the GOP rebels threatening to oust him.

Johnson is holding his second meeting in as many days on Tuesday afternoon with Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky. They made several demands of Johnson on foreign aid and government funding in a two-hour closed-door meeting on Monday. 

It’s not immediately clear if they will back off their threats if their requests are fulfilled, but several House Republicans told Fox News Digital they hope Johnson stands firm against their demands unless he decides something is in the best interest of his conference.

‘I think his job as speaker is to listen a lot, and then he has to ultimately make a decision, so I don’t have a problem with him listening,’ Republican Study Committee Chair Kevin Hern, R-Okla., said on Tuesday morning. ‘What I would have a problem with – and we had this problem with Speaker McCarthy – is when you start making special deals, side deals and hidden deals… then people [say]… ‘What about my deal?”

Hern was referring to the closed-door conversations ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., held with members of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus and their allies, at times shifting House GOP policy after hours behind closed-doors with those members. That includes side deals he made in January 2023 to win the speaker’s gavel after a record 15 rounds of voting.

‘It’s hard to equate him and Speaker McCarthy, they’re just entirely different and they had a different approach to most of everything,’ one GOP lawmaker granted anonymity to speak freely told Fox News Digital.

The GOP lawmaker argued that the concessions being asked of Johnson were mostly non-controversial, but added, ‘I just feel like it’s not good practice to establish separate arrangements with separate members.’

‘My management style has always been – you never, ever, ever grease a squeaky wheel,’ Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., said when asked about potential side deals. ‘Because if you do, you’re going to end up with more squeaky wheels.’

Fox News Digital reported early on Tuesday that among the requests Greene and Massie made to Johnson were assurances that the House would not vote on any more Ukraine aid and a pledge to defund Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation of former President Trump.

They are also demanding that Johnson vow to block any legislation from getting a House-wide vote unless it has the support of a majority of the House GOP – a long-standing informal provision called the Hastert rule, named after a former Republican speaker.

Greene confirmed those requests when she arrived at Johnson’s office on Tuesday afternoon for their second meeting.

‘These are not unreasonable requests. These are the right things to do. These are the right things to do for our conference,’ Greene told reporters.

Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Pa., told Fox News Digital he did not believe Johnson would agree to their requests, and called them ‘nonsense.’

‘Look, they get to weigh in, they get a vote. That’s what they get. They don’t get to form our total policy,’ Meuser said.

A second GOP lawmaker granted anonymity to speak freely acknowledged there would always be ‘concerns’ about possible side deals with House Republicans’ razor-thin majority.

‘I think there’s always concerns about that, that there’s specific members that are getting more attention than others from the speaker himself,’ the second GOP lawmaker said. ‘But, you know, overall, I think it’s kind of like, we’re just trying to figure out how to move forward on some of this stuff. Everybody realizes the majority is so thin, that, you know, anybody could walk into the speaker’s office and make demands.’

Johnson was asked about some GOP lawmakers’ concerns about his negotiating with Greene and Massie during his weekly press conference on Tuesday.

‘It’s not a negotiation, OK? This is how I have operated as speaker… Everybody knows I have lengthy discussions, detailed discussions on a daily basis with members across the conference. There are 217 of us. It takes a lot of time,’ Johnson said. ‘So I take Marjorie’s ideas and Thomas’ and everybody else’s equally, and we assess them on their own value and where we can make improvements and changes and all of that. And that’s what this is.’

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