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Tensions erupt on House floor as conservatives confront Johnson on $95B foreign aid plan

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Tensions flared in the House of Representatives on Thursday when a group of conservatives confronted Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., over his foreign aid plan, leading to another Republican trading barbs with the group of rebels.

A group of lawmakers that included Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., and others could be seen huddled with Johnson on the House floor after morning votes. 

The discussion appeared to be interrupted a short while later when Rep. Derrick Van Orden, R-Wis., confronted the group, and wound up in a particularly heated back-and-forth with Gaetz. Van Orden later told Fox News Digital that he called Gaetz ‘tubby’ and dared the GOP rebels to trigger a vote for Johnson’s ouster – a threat he’s facing from Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky., who were not in the group.

Gaetz later told reporters that the conversation with Johnson was ‘tense’ and that they were expressing opposition to his $95 billion proposal of separate bills for aid to Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific. 

It comes as Johnson faces blowback from members on the right of his conference over the plan, which is roughly the same cost as the Senate’s combined Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan funding package passed earlier this year. 

‘We don’t want to pass his bill. The only win we’ve got in the House of Representatives is blocking the Senate supplemental. If we’re going to throw in the towel on that, what are we doing here?’ Gaetz asked.

A key difference in Johnson’s plan is having House members vote on each of the bills separately before sending them in a combined package to the Senate – in order to give lawmakers the opportunity to take a stand on each issue and separating the politically fraught matter of Ukraine.

But conservatives balked at the lack of U.S. border security provisions tied to the Ukraine bill. Indeed, a GOP lawmaker familiar with the confrontation on the House floor told Fox News Digital that they were pushing Johnson to consider options that include border policy rather than going forward with his planned Saturday foreign aid vote.

‘I thought we were making some real headway, and then had a member walk up and just start name-calling and just getting in people’s faces,’ the GOP lawmaker said.

They were almost certainly referring to Van Orden, who later told Fox News Digital that he joined the fray because he noticed the speaker needed ‘a swim buddy,’ a term for a teammate that Van Orden borrowed from his days in the Navy SEALs.

‘Gaetz was speaking to the speaker in a matter that I just, I did not think it was appropriate,’ Van Orden said. 

‘They start calling me stupid – incredibly juvenile things. And so I said something along the lines of, ‘Kick rocks, tubby,’ to Matt … And the reason I did that is because Matt Gaetz is a bully. He just got up in my face, and I’m not gonna be intimidated by that guy.’

Van Orden is one of the many rank-and-file Republicans who have accused House Freedom Caucus members and their allies of hurting the conference with hardball tactics against their fellow GOP lawmakers.

He said he dared them to make good on threats to call a motion to vacate, a procedural maneuver that would trigger a vote on ousting the speaker.

When asked about his confrontation with Van Orden later, Gaetz called it ‘very puzzling and concerning.’

‘The only thing I gleaned from it is that Mr. Van Orden is not a particularly intelligent individual,’ Gaetz said.

He added that his confidence in Johnson was ‘diminishing’ over his actions on foreign aid.

Currently, a vote on those bills is expected Saturday evening. Another border security bill that Johnson put forward to ease GOP concerns was blown up on Thursday night before it could get to the House floor by conservatives who accused Johnson of putting it up as a messaging bill with no real momentum.

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