More than a dozen House Republicans voted against procedural steps needed to begin consideration of three unrelated bills this afternoon in protest of House Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-LA) deal with Democratic leadership to cap upcoming spending bill totals at $1.7 trillion.
What was once an unheard of maneuver in the House has become a well-worn tactic for the rebel caucus: tank simple rule votes to signal a looming rebellion after leadership does something the right flank don’t like to avert a shutdown. In the fall, it was now-ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) decision to work with Democrats to pass a short-term spending bill to keep the government open that triggered the behavior. This time, the new speaker has committed a similar offense: he worked with Democrats to arrive at bipartisan proposals for must-pass spending bills before the upcoming shutdown deadlines on January 19 and February 2.
But even without this afternoon’s performance, Johnson has known for a few days he is on thin ice.
During a closed-door meeting with the conference Wednesday afternoon, Johnson pleaded with his colleagues to talk to him in person about their issues with the spending deal, instead of shitposting their complaints on their preferred social platform. While a chunk of the party has gotten behind the Johnson-Schumer deal, right-wingers are reportedly mad that it doesn’t include deep enough cuts and doesn’t address their various culture war priorities, like curbing the Department of Defense’s abortion policies.
A handful of conference members left that meeting displeased, according to multiple reports. That includes Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) who told reporters that Johnson “should never have been hired” and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), who wasn’t at the meeting but said that ousting Johnson as speaker is “on the table.”
None of the other far-right members have echoed Roy’s remarks, but the drama fest on the floor this afternoon signals performative punishments did not end with McCarthy’s ousting.
And in the clearest sign yet that Johnson is concerned he may have sealed his fate by working with Schumer this week, he’s making the ritual pilgrimage to the most influential of conservative movement power brokers: Fox News and Donald Trump himself.
During an interview on conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt’s show this morning, Johnson assured listeners that he was keeping Trump in the loop. He said he planned to call the former president Wednesday to “talk him through the details of” the agreement he’d reached with Schumer. Johnson has been an ally of Trump’s for some time — dating back to his light election denialism in 2020 — but getting Trump on board with the proposal may convince the former president to tamp down any brewing rebellion, decreasing the threat he’ll suffer the McCarthy fate.
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