House Speaker Mike Johnson Is Hit With The Same Problems That Vexed Kevin McCarthy

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WASHINGTON (AP) — By most accounts, Speaker Mike Johnson inherited a House Republican majority in disarray after the sudden ouster of his predecessor final month.

But as Johnson, R-La., tries to rebuild that slim majority, he’s quick operating into the identical hard-right factions and divisions that Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was unable to tame. That’s disrupting the celebration’s agenda, shelving priorities and leaving gnawing questions on any chief’s capacity to manipulate.

Capitol Hill devolved into recent scenes of political chaos this previous week as tensions soared. A Republican senator challenged a Teamsters union boss to a brawl, certainly one of a number of outbursts involving lawmakers, and the untested new speaker was pressured to desert his personal celebration’s schedule and ship everybody house early for Thanksgiving.

“This place is a pressure cooker,” Johnson lamented. Hopefully, he said, people will “cool off.”

But the outlook ahead appears no better. House Republicans who pledged to slash federal spending, examine President Joe Biden and finish an extended string of Democratic insurance policies have made solely incremental progress on their priorities.

Even although McCarthy struck a shocking debt deal with Biden earlier this 12 months that set a course to scale back federal deficits by $1.5 trillion over the subsequent decade, a conservative victory, it exists primarily on paper.

Republicans have failed to pass all the legislation needed to put all those cuts into law and have yanked some bills from the House floor. Centrist conservatives said the measures went too far, however, as the hard-right faction demands steeper reductions in government programs.

With the times dwindling earlier than a possible authorities shutdown, Congress had little selection however to cross one other short-term measure that retains federal spending on autopilot for a pair extra months. That avoids a federal closure for now, however units up the subsequent showdown in January.

“We haven’t done anything!” thundered Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, lashing into his colleagues in a lengthy speech as lawmakers fled for the exits.

Conservatives took particular umbrage at the temporary spending bill, called a continuing resolution, that maintained spending at the levels that had been agreed to last year, when Democrats had full management of Congress and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was the speaker.

“When are we going to do what we said we were going to do?” Roy railed. “When are we going to act like a Republican majority and start fighting?”

It’s the same complaint that led the hard-right bloc to oust McCarthy in October, the first unseating of a speaker in U.S. history, and will threaten Johnson’s leadership.

The GOP divide on spending underscores the disconnect between Republican ideals for shrinking the size and scope of government and the reality of cutting programs and services close to home.

Rep. Nick LaLota, R-N.Y., was one of the more centrist conservatives who voted against a procedural step on legislation to fund the Justice Department, among other agencies, because he said the law enforcement cuts would hurt public safety agencies.

“My constituents don’t need me voting for that,” he said.

Republicans are also incensed they have been enduring countless midnight voting sessions, considering hundreds of amendments — voting to slash Biden administration salaries to $1, trying to end “woke” policies on diversity and inclusion — on legislative packages that ultimately go nowhere.

LaLota said after 10 months in the majority, the strategy is not working. “My constituents need us to chop, however they need us to chop in the best areas,” he said.

Complicating the work of Congress is a world at war.

Biden has requested Congress for a almost $106 billion supplemental spending bundle to offer army and authorities assist to Ukraine because it fights Russia, and to assist Israel within the conflict with Hamas and supply aid for Palestinians in Gaza. The bundle carries different priorities, together with strengthening U.S.-Mexico border safety, which can be a high precedence when lawmakers return.

On the eve of voting, Johnson laid out his strategy for the stopgap measure, drawing on the hard-right Freedom Caucus’ proposal to break the spending bill into two parts, with funding set to expire on Jan. 19 for some agencies and then Feb. 2 for others.

But the conservatives panned the plan, and the caucus members mentioned most would oppose it. Johnson rebuffed their suggestion to at the least connect the House-passed Israel assist bundle as a means drive the Senate to behave.

Hard-right members rolled their eyes at Johnson’s strategy. But they said they wanted to give the new speaker the grace to find his way.

“The new speaker is respected. He’s admired, he’s trusted,” said Rep. Bob Good, R-Va. “You know, he’s human. He’s imperfect, like we all are.”

Republicans are well aware their slim House majority is increasingly at risk heading into the 2024 election season if they are unable to deliver on their promises to voters. Many lawmakers in both parties are choosing to retire rather than keep fighting the same battles.

Johnson defended his three weeks on the job, saying, “I can’t turn an aircraft carrier overnight.” He insisted he is in “a really totally different scenario” from what McCarthy confronted.

“We have some great plans,” he advised reporters at a information convention.

But Republican Rep. Garrett Graves of Louisiana, a high McCarthy ally, mentioned the concept “by electing a new speaker, you are going to suddenly have all these new options I think is now being realized this is not factual.”

He added: “I think that it’s going to continue to be a bumpy road going forward.”

After House Democrats provided the votes needed to help Johnson avert a federal shutdown, Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, whose party also delivered the votes to help oust McCarthy, said he is working to have a good relationship with the new speaker.

Asked whether he had any advice for Johnson, Jeffries said: “Good luck.”