Sunday, July 21, 2024

New speaker lays out legislative agenda, receives broad support from party

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., has laid out his vision for the House and legislative goals, but he faces the daunting task of reuniting a divided party in a slim majority and funding the government before the partial shutdown deadline in the middle of November.

Before the vote to elect Johnson as speaker on Wednesday, Johnson sent a memo to his fellow Republicans asking for their support and promising an “ambitious” legislative agenda.

“In the interest of time, I would propose that we seek consensus to discharge the last two appropriations bills-Labor, HHS, and Education and Commerce, Justice, and Science-from the Appropriations Committee,” Johnson said. “We should also create a new working group to address Member concerns with the Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration appropriations bill. As all of this is being completed, if another stopgap measure is needed to extend government funding beyond the November 17 deadline, I would propose a measure that expires on January 15 or April 15 (based on what can obtain Conference consensus), to ensure the Senate cannot jam the House with a Christmas omnibus.”

Johnson went on to suggest an immediate schedule for the House floor:

Week of October 23: Energy and Water

Week of October 30: Legislative Branch, Interior and Environment, THUD

Week of November 6: FSGG, CIS

Week of November 13: Labor/HHS, Ag

In his acceptance speech, Johnson said support for Israel would be a top priority. Johnson, though, has been skeptical of more funding for Ukraine, which could complicate President Joe Biden’s latest request for about $60 billion for the embattled nation.

“Our nation’s greatest ally in the Middle East is under attack,” Johnson said in his acceptance speech. “The first bill that I’ll bring to this floor in just a little while will be in support of our dear friend, Israel. And we’re overdue in getting that done.”

At the same time, Johnson must deal with a controversial item almost immediately: a motion filed by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Minn., for Tlaib’s “antisemitic activity, sympathizing with terrorist organizations” like Hamas and leading an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, an apparent reference to an Oct. 18 protest where anti-Israel protestors took over a House office building.

Because of House rules, Johnson must take the motion up for a vote, which is politically charged because of its direct comparison to the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol and the attacks Democrats have levied against Republicans to this day over the incident.

Notably, former President Donald Trump faces an indictment and criminal charges for his role in protesting the results of the 2020 election, which critics say led to the Jan. 6 protests.

A vote on that censure resolution is expected next week.

“Tlaib led a pro-Hamas insurrection into the Capitol complex, has repeatedly displayed her anti-Semitic beliefs, and shown her hatred for Israel,” Green wrote on X. “She must be held accountable and censured.”

After his election as speaker, Republicans were quick to praise Johnson , who received unanimous Republican support, after he received the speakership.

“House Speaker Mike Johnson is a proven conservative who is honorable, smart, and will do a great job leading the House Republican Conference,” Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith, R-Mo., said in a statement. “I’m excited to work hand-in-hand with Speaker Johnson to advance the policies we need to secure our southern border, increase support for Israel, and bring relief to working-class Americans who are struggling to get by in President Joe Biden’s economy.”

Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., was one of the handful of Republicans who voted to oust former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., which kicked off more than three weeks of scrambling to find a new speaker. She released a statement after Johnson’s vote saying that while the process was difficult, it was “well worth it.”

“Eight of us had the audacity to listen to the American people and vote to vacate the former Speaker,” she said.“We told the American people they deserved someone who would be honest and represent their interests, not Washington’s.

“While we fully understand we don’t always see eye-to-eye with Mike Johnson, today the American people can finally be proud of their speaker,” she added.

Johnson thanked his supporters this week and called for leadership with “bold, decisive action.”

“It has been an arduous few weeks, and a reminder that the House is as complicated and diverse as the people we represent,” Johnson wrote on X. “The urgency of this moment demands bold, decisive action to restore trust, advance our legislative priorities, and demonstrate good governance. Our House Republican Conference is united, and eager to work. As Speaker, I will ensure the House delivers results and inspires change for the American people. We will restore trust in this body.”

Trump, who was actively campaigning for and against different speaker nominees, congratulated Johnson when talking to reporters, saying “he will be a great speaker of the House.”

Johnson promised an array of accomplishments upon taking the speakership, but whether he can succeed in the divided House remains to be seen.

“We will advance a comprehensive conservative policy agenda, combat the harmful policies of the Biden Administration, and support our allies abroad,” Johnson said in a statement after winning the speakership. “And we will restore sanity to a government desperately in need of it. Let’s get back to work.”