Hardline Conservatives Deal Major Blow To House Speaker

The House of Representatives experienced a setback on Wednesday when a crucial measure was defeated. The defeat was primarily due to Republican defections, as a protest against a recent government funding deal negotiated by House Speaker Mike Johnson.

This deal, announced on Sunday, was reached between Johnson, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and other congressional leaders. It aimed to secure funding for the government throughout Fiscal Year 2024, with a proposed spending allocation of $1.59 trillion until September 30, 2024. However, this agreement faced vehement opposition from many conservative members of the House Republican Conference. As a result, they voted to defeat a rules package on Wednesday, which would have allowed for the consideration of several bills.

House Resolution 947, which was not adopted, recorded a vote count of 203 in support and 216 against. The purpose of this resolution was to make it easier to propose laws that would bar the federal government from creating “slush funds” for legal settlements and to revoke certain regulations imposed by the Biden administration on employment and electric vehicles. The bill’s defeat was notably impacted by the dissent of thirteen House Republicans, a crucial detail considering the Republican Party’s narrow majority of only three seats in the House.

Prominent Republican representatives such as Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Chip Roy of Texas, Matt Rosendale of Montana, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Good of Virginia were among those who voted against the legislation. All Democrats joined them in opposing the rule’s advancement.

This defeat poses a significant challenge for House Speaker Mike Johnson, as he now faces the possibility of a motion to vacate the chair, which could result in his removal from office. Representative Chip Roy, one of the Republicans who voted against the bill, hinted at this possibility, stating, “I’m leaving it on the table.” The motion to vacate was last used in October of 2023 to remove Kevin McCarthy as the Speaker of the House after he approved a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown.

Considering the situation, Johnson acknowledged his difficulties, given the party’s dwindling majority. “I’ve talked with him about the reality of being in what is soon to be the smallest majority in the history of the Congress,” Johnson commented on Roy’s threat. “We have a tough challenge.”

Despite the setback, Johnson remains resolute in his belief that the agreement is the best possible deal. He sees it as a step towards restoring fiscal sanity. However, time is of the essence. House Republicans must pass several appropriations bills to fund the government before January 19 or risk a partial government shutdown, which would escalate to a complete shutdown on February 2. The pressure is on, and the stakes are high.