A group of hardline Republicans has sent a strong message to newly appointed US House Speaker Mike Johnson, indicating that their support for legislation can no longer be guaranteed, potentially putting an early end to his “honeymoon” period.
In a recent vote, 19 House Republicans, including 15 hardliners, opposed opening the debate on their party’s bill to fund federal programs for fiscal 2024. This move underscores their refusal to pass bills that fail to address the nation’s issues.
Chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Representative Scott Perry, clarified their stance, saying, “We want the message to be clear. We’re not going to pass bills that don’t address the problems that America faces.”
This marked the second instance this year in which Freedom Caucus members and others protested against Speaker Johnson’s decisions. They were particularly displeased with his temporary funding measure to prevent a partial government shutdown, which excluded spending cuts and conservative policies.
Representative Nick LaLota, alongside three other Republicans from New York swing districts, joined the blockage of the debate for reasons such as abortion restrictions and cuts to law enforcement spending in the proposed legislation. LaLota commented, “The honeymoon is probably over.”
Despite these concerns, Speaker Johnson’s office did not provide any comment on the matter. In June, a group of hardliners had already shut down the House floor in protest against a spending deal made between President Joe Biden and then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, which ultimately led to McCarthy’s removal from his position on October 3.
Speaker Johnson, known for his strong Christian conservative values, further upset hardliners with his short-term spending bill. This bill aimed to maintain current government funding and programs until early 2024 but received support from only 127 Republicans, compared to 209 Democrats. This signifies a troubling sign for the new speaker. By suspending House rules to bypass opposition, Johnson had also frustrated hardliners, who had hoped to block debate on the measure.
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On Wednesday, the Senate passed the bill, making it a legislative success. However, the House has already passed seven appropriations bills for 2024, all of which are partisan Republican measures unlikely to become law. The remaining five spending bills remain a point of contention among Republicans, with hardliners urging Speaker Johnson to unite the fragile Republican majority and negotiate spending cuts and policy changes with the Democratic-led Senate, targeting programs that Democrats consider priorities.
Representative Anna Paulina Luna expressed a positive view of Speaker Johnson, describing him as a likable individual. However, she emphasized the need for him to fulfill his promises, declaring, “But we’re going to make sure that he follows through on what he said he was going to do.”