Members of the House Freedom Caucus are closely monitoring Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., after a recent rebellion within the GOP over government spending resulted in a significant setback for the new leader. Representatives within the caucus express both wariness and hope as they assess Johnson’s commitment to budget cuts and advancing conservative policies.
In an interview with Fox News Digital, Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., stated that Johnson has assured the caucus of his dedication to cutting spending and prioritizing conservative causes.
Norman emphasized that if Johnson does not follow through on these promises, they will take matters into their own hands. He stated, “We’re gonna start taking rules down. We’re just not going to keep going like this. We’re just not doing it. Whatever it takes.”
Fractures within the House GOP Conference, particularly regarding government spending, came to the forefront last week when Johnson proposed a short-term spending bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to prevent a government shutdown.
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, voiced his displeasure with Johnson’s decision, calling it a mistake that did not serve the party’s best interests in negotiations with Democrats.
Roy and Norman were among the 19 Republicans who voted against a procedural vote on the spending bill dealing with the Departments of Justice and Commerce. Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry, R-Pa., who also opposed Johnson’s CR, emphasized that their aim was to signal a warning.
He stated, “We’re sending a shot across the bow. We want to see these bills move. We want to see good righteous policy. But we’re not going to be part of the failure theater anymore.”
Norman clarified that his vote was a protest against the rule rather than solely about his opposition to the spending bill itself. Comparing Johnson to his predecessor, ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who faced opposition from hardline Republicans, Norman and other members of the Freedom Caucus stressed that Johnson is taking a different approach.
The trust and confidence between Johnson and the rank-and-file members of the House GOP were highlighted by Rep. Ben Cline, R-Va. Cline expressed optimism that Johnson would listen to the concerns of his colleagues and involve them in decision-making processes. He stated, “That confidence… among us, the rank and file members, is going to help him as he moves forward.”
Although concerns remain about the country’s financial situation and the potential impact of continued spending, Roy refrained from directly comparing McCarthy and Johnson. He focused on the need to move forward and find solutions to the challenges faced by the House GOP.
The House Freedom Caucus members expressed that they are eager to see how Johnson navigates future obstacles, including the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the appropriations bills. Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Mo., highlighted that the real battle lies within the conference itself.
The House Freedom Caucus’s warning serves as a reminder to Speaker Johnson and the broader GOP Conference that they are prepared to challenge leadership if necessary. While the rebels express hope in Johnson’s leadership, they remain vigilant in holding him accountable to their conservative ideals and goals.