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Republicans finally elect a Speaker. What now?
Louisiana Republican Rep. Mike Johnson is the next U.S. House Speaker.
You have to hand it to him. Anyone who could capture the Speakership and not lose a single vote in this Republican Party? It’s quite a feat.
Now, there are a few possible reasons for his success on the House Floor. Part of it could be fatigue. Republican Party members have been meeting for three weeks to try and replace Kevin McCarthy. They’ve also had several failed nominations over that time. Members may have been tired of going over this and decided to consolidate behind Johnson.
Another reason for his success is probably for the same reason you haven’t heard of Mike Johnson until now. He’s only been in Congress since 2017, so frankly, he probably hasn’t been there long enough to make a lot of enemies in his party.
And finally, there’s a looming government shutdown next month. Time is running out for Republicans to get a Speaker in place, which brings us to the first thing to watch for as Speaker Johnson takes over:
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1. Spending plan
How does Speaker Johnson get a spending plan done?
It was this issue that was the undoing of Kevin McCarthy. After working to try and unite his party on a plan and failing to do so, McCarthy decided to work with Democrats to pass a continuing resolution and spare a government shutdown. That led Rep. Matt Gaetz to call for McCarthy’s head.
Congress only has until November 17th to get a new spending plan in place, whether another temporary or long-term plan.
While Speaker Johnson is much more of a MAGA true believer than McCarthy and seems more likely to get the support of the powerful MAGA Republican block (all eight of the Representatives who voted to remove McCarthy voted for Johnson), whatever spending plan the House passes is still going to have to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate and be signed by President Biden.
When you have an untested ideologue like Johnson as Speaker, the natural question to ask is: Are we headed for even more gridlock?
The next thing to watch is Congressional support for Ukraine’s war with Russia under Speaker Johnson.
Ukraine has become a much more contentious issue of late, particularly in the far-right wing of the Republican Party.
President Biden has already requested a $105 billion foreign aid package that includes additional money for Ukraine.
Speaker Johnson may look to separate any Ukraine funding proposals from other government spending plans, implementing so-called “clean” bills.
But more broadly than that, the question is how much will Speaker Johnson push to continue U.S. support for Ukraine?
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3. The Republican wish-list
Finally, how much time does Speaker Johnson spend propping up Republican wish-list agenda items that stand no chance of becoming law?
We know that Johnson is a staunch evangelical who has quite openly opposed long-standing principles concerning the separation of church and state. He is in favor of a nationwide abortion ban and also opposes gay marriage.
Further, as an election-denier and staunch defender of former President Trump who served on Trump’s defense team in both of Trump’s impeachment trials, how much does he work to prop up Jim Jordan’s dubious impeachment inquiry of President Biden?
What do you think? Let me know in the comments!