House Freedom Caucus members emerged Thursday from a meeting with Speaker Mike Johnson ecstatic about their engagement with the new GOP leader.
“He’s a true conservative,” said Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) following the meeting. “Just a breath of fresh air.”
Norman said that Johnson, during a meeting that was designed to focus on government funding, promised a list of “enforcement” safeguards that he’d endorse as a condition for approving additional aid to Ukraine or Israel — potentially as soon as Thursday, before the chamber votes on a standalone Israel aid package.
“We have no confidence in this administration. [Johnson] is backing that up,” Norman told reporters. “He’s gonna put out a list of the things that will have to be done before we give one dollar.”
Norman said that he raised the idea of the “enforcement” conditions on aid to Johnson in the meeting, arguing that House Republicans need to be able to “handcuff” the administration on any additional funding.
Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) said he was “really, really pleased” by Johnson’s approach and that “the speaker is being so inclusive, specifically with the Freedom Caucus.”
Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) called the meeting “excellent.”
Johnson and other members of the Republican leadership team, including Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), huddled with the conservative group in his office following the first vote series on Thursday. The Freedom Caucus indicated after Johnson won the speakership last week that they expected to sit down with him.
In addition to Johnson’s list, the speaker indicated in a closed-door conference meeting earlier Thursday that the Biden administration would be handing over a report aimed at answering GOP questions on Ukraine funding, according to Rules Committee Chair Tom Cole (R-Okla.).
“The speaker said that [Jake] Sullivan has got back with a report that they are issuing … that is a response to the questions he left them last week,” Cole said.
Jordain Carney contributed.