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Speaker Mike Johnson

What Mike Johnson told us about Israel and his 2025 plans

It’s recess, but we had the opportunity to catch up with Speaker Mike Johnson Wednesday on a host of critical topics and wanted to share what we’ve learned.

Bibi’s speech: Johnson is on the brink of sending a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to formally invite him to address a joint meeting of Congress. The letter needs to be signed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Johnson — and that part is done. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries is reviewing the letter. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is already on board. Jeffries and McConnell don’t need to sign the letter in order to invite Netanyahu but Hill leaders usually like to make such invites bipartisan and bicameral, if possible.

Johnson told us he anticipates Netanyahu will address Congress some during the next eight weeks — before the August recess — as we previewed last week. Here’s Johnson:

Johnson has provided Netanyahu with the days Congress is in session between now and August and the speaker said “as soon as possible is the objective.”

Reconciliation: We reported last week that House Majority Leader Steve Scalise was already planning for reconciliation should Republicans keep the House and win the Senate and White House in November. This would allow Republican leaders and former President Donald Trump to overcome any Senate Democratic filibuster for a big-ticket package.

Johnson has some thoughts as well, as you might imagine. Yet remember this: It’s very easy to talk in hypotheticals about what a Republican Washington would be able to do. It’s even more difficult to execute on it. Take the GOP record from 2017 through 2019 on repealing Obamacare as proof of that.

The speaker said he feels as if Republicans didn’t take full advantage of reconciliation in 2017 because party leaders kept the bill they eventually passed narrowly focused on tax cuts. Johnson wants to think more expansively about the budget reconciliation process in 2025 if Republicans control all of Washington; he’s thinking about border security and energy policy, similar to Scalise. Here’s Johnson:

Republicans have been saying that the Inflation Reduction Act, which Democrats passed using reconciliation, is a roadmap for the GOP. Republicans will try to shoehorn as many policies as possible into their reconciliation bill if they take the majority.

Johnson added that he started the preparation earlier this time around because Republicans “wasted at least a couple of months” during the first quarter of former President Donald Trump’s term because most lawmakers thought Hillary Clinton would win.

Appropriations: There’s been some chatter in the Capitol of pushing the end date for any continuing resolution this fall — needed to finish work on the FY2025 spending bills post-election — until the early part of next year. Conservative Republicans, in particular, argue that Trump could come in and inject his own priorities into the spending process.

Johnson said he’s aware of the chatter and said it’s an idea that “should be considered.” But he seems bearish on this approach:

— Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan

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