Speaker Mike Johnson’s Days Might Be Numbered
Plus: House Republicans’ attendance is now an issue.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Next week, if the House and Senate can’t come to terms on a deal, there will be a partial government shutdown. Two weeks after that, there could either be another partial shutdown affecting different parts of the government, or the first partial shutdown could grow into a full-blown shutdown. The obstacles to resolving this problem are primarily in the House—and specifically, the House Republican Conference.
But the House has another problem that could be even worse than a shutdown—a speakership fiasco reminiscent of the one that produced a three-week-long stasis in October. While the potential victim of the human sacrifice is different this time, the reasons for offering it are the same: Far-right members of the House Freedom Caucus and their allies are livid that compromises are a necessity of a functioning government and that their own uncompromising positions and policy proposals are not being given priority in the negotiations. Thanks to Republicans’ waning majority, these tantrums are upstaging normal business. Something’s got to give.
That’s why Speaker Mike Johnson is at risk of losing the gavel just three months into the job. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) made clear that all options for bringing Johnson to heel are under consideration, including a potential motion to vacate, the rule Republicans implemented when they took control of the chamber that allows a single member to prompt a vote to remove someone from the speakership.
“I’m leaving it on the table. I’m not gonna say I’m gonna go file it tomorrow. I’m not saying I’m not going to file it tomorrow,” Roy said Tuesday on The Steve Deace Show. “I think the speaker needs to know that we’re angry about it. He needs to know that we need to sit down at the table and try to solve this.”
Johnson immediately tried to wave off the negative news. He told reporters Wednesday that Roy is “one of my closest friends” and then attempted to join in his dissatisfied colleagues’ outrage at the government.
I’m not concerned about that, we’re leading. . . . What I’ve talked with him about is the reality of being in what is soon to be the smallest majority in the history of the Congress, except for one exception, I think in 1970, according to my research.
(Not quite, Mr. Speaker: At no time in the 1970s was the party breakdown anywhere near as even as it is today.)
According to Axios, during a closed-door meeting in the Capitol on Wednesday, Johnson also pleaded with his colleagues to not be mean to him on social media.
But his attempts to quell the rebellion haven’t worked. During votes on Wednesday afternoon, Johnson and Roy could be seen arguing on the House floor, dramatic hand motions and all. The dustup was presumably over what followed: 13 Republicans including Roy tanked the procedural rule vote to disrupt the day’s business.1 After watching them carry out their stunt, Johnson canceled business for the rest of the day to sort out the party’s many issues.