Speaker Johnson holds firm on spending deal despite conservatives colleagues' discontent

 January 14, 2024

As congressional spending battles continue apace, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has taken a stand by announcing last week that he would hold firm in support of a $1.66 trillion deal with Democrats designed to thwart a partial shutdown of the government, though the move has sparked a backlash from some of his more conservative colleagues, as the New York Post reports.

Due to Johnson's stance, some Republicans have already declared their intention to vote against the measure, while others have threatened to launch a push to vacate the speaker's post.

Speaking to reporters late last week about the controversial compromise, Johnson said, “Our topline agreement remains. We are getting our next steps together, and we are working toward a robust appropriations process.”

Touting what he views as Republican wins within the deal, Johnson added, “The topline agreement includes hard-won concessions to cut more – billions, as you know, from the IRS giveaway and the COVID-era slush funds.”

“It brings Congress much closer to regular order, which is our big commitment here,” Johnson said, highlighting a key priority of congressional conservatives and something on which former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy fell short.

Even so, Johnson has not been without his critics, particularly among those who believe that greater spending cuts than are achieved under the current deal were required.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) for example, lamented, “Defense hawks continue to run the swamp. That's what killed Kevin. That's what's killing Mike.

“This isn't the end of this fight – we weren't given the majority to spend higher than [House Speaker emerita] Nancy Pelosi,” added Roy, who is someone who has not ruled out the notion of vacating the speakership yet again.

As The Hill notes, however, there are certain Democrats in the House who have indicated a willingness to help Johnson retain the speaker's gavel should hardline conservatives take action against him.

However, their aid would come with a price, namely, greater influence in the legislative process, as Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) explained.

“He would have to be more willing than Kevin McCarthy was to sit down with [Minority Leader] Hakeem Jeffries and have a conversation about what it would take for us to be helpful. Kevin said to pound sand. He didn't want the help,” said Kildee.

The Michigan Democrat added, “We wouldn't be offering it as an act of charity. We would say, 'Look, if you need Democrats to govern, then you're going to have to take Democratic input.”

Such a bargain would surely be a bitter pill for Johnson to swallow, and it remains unclear just how serious the threat of a motion to vacate truly is at this point in the discussions.

However, as The Hill noted separately, Republican firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said Friday that she spoke with Johnson and made it clear that the option is indeed on the table due to what she believes is his acquiescence to a deal that does not address the border crisis, but whether she and her conservative colleagues would actually pull the trigger on such a strategy, only time will tell.