Johnson Ignores Looming Funding Deadlines In Downplaying Dems’ New York Win

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WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 14: Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) talks to reporters during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on February 14, 2024 in Washington, DC. After last week's attempt... WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 14: Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) talks to reporters during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on February 14, 2024 in Washington, DC. After last week's attempt to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas failed, Johnson led his caucus through a second vote this week, ultimately impeaching the first cabinet secretary in almost 150 years by a vote of 214 to 213 Tuesday night. The impeachment triggers a trial in the U.S. Senate which is expected to easily acquit Mayorkas of the charges of high crimes and misdemeanors. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Tom Suozzi’s win in the New York 3rd Congressional District replacing serial fabulist George Santos Tuesday night will bring Republicans’ majority in the House down to 219-213 once the longtime New York Democrat is sworn in. The high-stakes congressional seat flip for Democrats means that Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) will only be able to lose two Republicans on any party-line vote with full attendance in coming weeks (Republicans still have two vacant seats left by ousted-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) who resigned in January).

That puts a large bolded question mark over a bunch of other question marks surrounding what the House will do with the foreign aid package the Senate just sent over but, more broadly, it makes it a lot trickier for Republicans to pass anything and/or for Johnson to keep his job ahead of looming funding deadlines. Johnson set up a goofy two-tiered continuing resolution funding schedule to avoid a government shutdown not long after he was elected speaker in the fall. At the time, the two-tiered approach was thrown in as a bone to the House Freedom Caucus, which was threatening to vote against a “clean” CR. Congress voted to extend the January and February deadlines to March 1 and March 8 back in January, kicking the shutdown can a few more weeks down the road.

But it gets more complicated than that come end of April. Per my colleague, Kate Riga:

Due to provisions written into the Joe Biden-Kevin McCarthy debt ceiling deal, the entire budget will be slashed to 2023 levels minus one percent if Congress has failed to pass an appropriations package by April 30, or has a continuing resolution in place for any part of the government instead. This across-the-board cut, known as sequestration, includes the Defense Department, which Republicans have historically been adamant about funding generously.

With such slim margins and an increasingly rambunctious conference, it’s hard to see how Johnson does any legislating at all in coming months that won’t result in his ousting.

But that’s not where Johnson’s head is at.

In response to losing another seat in his unprecedentedly thin majority, Johnson downplayed the Tuesday night seat loss, arguing it suggests nothing about the temperature of the district or Republicans’ ability to hold the House in the fall.

“The result last night is not something, in my view, that Democrats should celebrate too much,” Johnson told reporters during a press conference Wednesday morning. “Think about what happened there. … They spent about $15 million to win a seat that President Biden won by eight points, they won it by less than eight points. Their candidate ran like a Republican, he sounded like a Republican talking about border and immigration because that’s the top issue on the hearts and minds of everybody.”

“There are a lot of factors there. That is in no way a bellwether of what’s going to happen this fall,” Johnson continued, before blaming the loss on the weather and Suozzi’s name recognition in the area.

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