The House will return today and Speaker Mike Johnson is set to get a very rough reception.
There has been a lot — and we mean truly a lot — of private griping among House Republicans about Johnson’s deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to lock in the Fiscal Responsibility Act for FY2024 spending. And Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis – endorsed by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), an ardent opponent – publicly came out against the plan on Monday night, injecting some Republican presidential politics into the mix.
The FRA, which former Speaker Kevin McCarthy hashed out with President Joe Biden, is the law of the land now and will remain virtually intact under the Schumer-Johnson deal. So there wasn’t much incentive for Democrats to give in or a chance for Johnson to reset the issue. It was a bad hand for Johnson from the start.
Here’s what one well-plugged-in House Republican told us. And by the way, this is not a Freedom Caucus member:
Are Johnson’s days numbered? It’s too early to say that. But you should be aware that there are knives out for the speaker already. Our friend Reese Gorman of the Washington Examiner quoted Roy saying that he is having “sober conversations” about the “continued failure theater” that is the House GOP. Roy declined to directly address whether he’d be in favor of throwing Johnson out of the job in an interview with CNN’s Kaitlan Collins.
And now, here’s some news: Johnson’s operation is now softening on their opposition to a short-term spending bill to avert a partial government shutdown Jan. 19.
Roughly two months ago, Johnson said that he was “done” with stopgap CRs. Inside the House Republican leadership, it was seen as an unnecessary proclamation that boxed in the new speaker.
But now, with a partial government shutdown 10 days away, aides to Johnson and others in the GOP leadership say that it is indeed possible that the House will have to buy more time to fund federal agencies by passing a short-term CR.
Officially, a Johnson spokesman said that the House and Senate will spend the next few weeks passing four spending bills, completing the appropriations process in regular order.
But since you weren’t born yesterday, you know this is incredibly unlikely.
There are plenty of reasons why Johnson should consider passing a short-term CR.
1) Much of Johnson’s leadership thinks it would be wise. They think a shutdown would be a political debacle.
2) If Johnson allows a short-term shutdown to occur — after suggesting he might on a call last week with House GOP freshmen — it would anger every corner of the House Republican Conference. Those itching for a shutdown would think it’s too short. And the majority of the conference, which is opposed to a shutdown, would think it’s a bad move, giving President Joe Biden a political lifeline.
3) Even with the topline spending number agreed to, top House and Senate appropriators still need to hash out the funding allocations for each subcommittee. Senior appropriators in the Senate are suggesting a short-term CR may be unavoidable.
“The time is ticking away very rapidly, and I am concerned that we have an awful lot of work to do prior to Jan. 19,” Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chair Susan Collins (R-Maine) said. “There are a lot of difficult decisions. The House and Senate bills are quite different from one another.”
But the main reason Johnson may not want to pass a stopgap CR is this: Reversing on a promise would be another strike in a House Republican Conference that’s already angry with him.
— Jake Sherman and Andrew Desiderio