Hardliners Appear Reluctant To Oust Johnson — For Now

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WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) (C) shakes hands with former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (L) after McCarthy voted for him as the House of Representatives holds an election fo... WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) (C) shakes hands with former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (L) after McCarthy voted for him as the House of Representatives holds an election for a new Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol on October 25, 2023 in Washington, DC. After a contentious nominating period that has seen four candidates over a three-week period, the House GOP conference selected Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) as their most recent nominee to succeed former Speaker McCarthy (R-CA), who was ousted on October 4 in a move led by a small group of conservative members of his own party. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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House Republicans in the Freedom Caucus have been warning Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) for months that his grace period to run the show sans their ire is over — ever since the newly minted speaker first worked with Democrats to pass a two-tiered “clean” continuing resolution to keep the government open last November, just a few weeks after he was elected. As soon as Johnson announced his plan to push the two-tiered proposal that would keep funding the government at current levels, it became clear that Johnson was not the Golden Boy that his most outspoken backers had promised, equipped with some magic power to unite the conference increasingly run by extremists.

That CR ended up passing with Democrats’ help and outcry from hardliners — though Johnson claimed the gimmicky two-tiered approach was thrown in as a bone to the House Freedom Caucus. The far-right flank has been suss about the speaker’s allegiances ever since, though only Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) has so far nodded at the fact that the motion to vacate is still on the table.

Now just days out from another partial government shutdown, Johnson announced over the weekend that he’d worked out a deal for another stopgap bill with Senate leadership that would keep the government open until March. The same type of maneuver that got former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) canned nine months into his speakership.

Freedom Caucus members are angry, but appear reluctant, at least as of this week, to make use of the one-person motion to vacate threshold they used to oust McCarthy last year. Only Roy, who has suggested the option is still on the table, and Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH), who told reporters that Johnson “should never have been hired” last week, have nodded in the direction of retaliation thus far.

It’s becoming increasingly possible that, perhaps, the far right’s enthusiasm for defenestration only applied, or especially applied, to McCarthy, as Freedom Caucus members are going out of their way to blame anyone but Johnson for doing things they don’t like. Today, for example, at least one hardliner is suggesting that Johnson is getting bad advice from his staff. Per the Messenger:

Montana GOP Rep. Matt Rosendale believes House Speaker Mike Johnson wants to put up a bigger fight on spending and the border but that his staff is talking him down from leveraging government funding to force conservative policy changes.

“He knows the right thing to do. He is getting terrible counsel,” Rosendale said in an interview with The Messenger on Tuesday. “His staff is undermining his confidence, and that’s what keeps him from doing the right thing. I think they all should be fired.”

Johnson’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

When it comes to McCarthy, maybe they just didn’t like the guy.

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