Newly minted House Speaker Mike Johnson emerged from the 22 days of chaos created by his colleagues as the last man they could stand to vote for. That landed him smack-dab in the center of the frying pan of disorder that is a government just 23 days away from running out of operating funds. Never fear, Johnson said in a letter to his colleagues earlier this week: He’s got this. That display of confidence is the first tell that this inexperienced lawmaker, elected in 2016 and with no history of leadership in the conference, is in for a doozy of a ride.
“We all understand that our next Speaker must be prepared to negotiate from a position of strength with the Democrat-controlled Senate and White House,” Johnson wrote. “The only way to secure that position is for the House to have passed all twelve of our appropriations measures,” he continued. “I am confident we can work together to accomplish that objective quickly, in a manner that delivers on our principled commitments to rein in wasteful spending, and put our country back on a path to fiscal responsibility.”
Then he lays out his schedule to complete work on eight of the remaining 12 appropriations bills in the next three weeks, before the Nov. 17 government funding deadline. That includes wrapping up the Energy and Water Development funding bill in the next two days. At least it has committee approval.
Johnson does acknowledge that there will need to be a continuing resolution to fund the government, either to Jan. 15 or April 15 of next year, “based on what can obtain Conference consensus,” so at least he acknowledges the Senate has a role in all this. He says he wants this CR to “ensure that the Senate cannot jam the House with a Christmas omnibus.” Nice little trick there, saying the need for a CR is to circumvent the Senate’s chicanery. He’s giving a nod there to the excuse that the maniacs used for ousting his predecessor, Rep. Kevin McCarthy—working with Democrats to pass a CR last month.
The reality is that he doesn’t need to justify it. Unlike McCarthy, he’s a trusted MAGA compatriot. The Freedom Caucus gang will be absolutely fine with giving their votes to Johnson to keep the government open because he’s their guy. They didn’t even have to spend 15 rounds of voting to get him to agree to their terms.
That’s the immediate ridiculous agenda for Johnson, completing at least two appropriations bills every week for the next month when two of the remaining bills—the massive Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education as well as Commerce, Justice, and Science—haven’t passed out of committee yet. He might have been able to get 220 Republican votes to be speaker, but he’s not a miracle worker.
Johnson’s plan doesn’t get any more realistic as the year progresses. Here are some of the highlights:
“Reach consensus for a legislative blueprint through the end of the 118th Congress.” Right. Because this crew cares about legislating.
“Return to legislating and effectively messaging on our top issues and priorities.” There’s a nice little dig at McCarthy.
“[S]ecure conservative wins for the American people.” That’s just an oxymoron.
“DO NOT break for district work period unless all 12 appropriations bills have passed the House.” This is the best. He’s threatening to take away their August 2024 recess, the official start of on-the-ground reelection campaigns. And their August recess, which this year lasted from the last week of July until the middle of September.
“EXPAND OUR MAJORITY.” Right.
Good luck next November on that one, with a MAGA extremist helming the ship. There’s one advantage Johnson has in this regard, though: He’s got a ton of experience in trying to steal elections. Just no success so far.
Who is Mike Johnson, the newest Republican speaker candidate?
House Republicans had a choice: 2020 election denier or a deal with Democrats. Guess what they chose