Good afternoon from Capitol Hill.
Last week, the House of Representatives elected conservative Mike Johnson from Louisiana as Speaker. Through a number of ballots and weeks, Mike Johnson emerged as the one who would unite and move the House forward with its business.
Center for Renewing American President, Russ Vought, wrote in a tweet, “I am excited for Mike Johnson as Speaker. When I was OMB Director & we sent budget cuts to Congress, Mike was one of the main leaders who wanted to pass them. He comes from the conservative movement & doesn’t view the grassroots with skepticism. He can help bring real change to the House!” And it’s not just conservative organizations that are hopeful.
Chris Bedford, who wrote over at Fox News, said, “A former lawyer for Alliance Defending Freedom, Johnson has been a clear voice for the sorts of issues voters care about, but his colleagues so often find icky. Christianity is central to his person.”
And this was obvious in his acceptance speech after the nomination to become Speaker.
Johnson said clearly, “I believe that scripture and the Bible is very clear that God is the one that raised up each of you and God has allowed us to be brought here to this specific moment in time.”
But Speaker Johnson isn’t taking the gavel without pressing issues. The House has to still pass appropriations bills, some which have not even come out of the Appropriations Committee yet, before the November 17 funding deadline.
Speaker Johnson has laid out an aggressive appropriations timeline, which conservatives have requested for months. Last week, the House passed the Energy and Water Appropriations bill across the floor. This week, the House will likely take up Israel aid that is offset with cuts to other programs, which puts them on opposite sides of the ball from the Senate who wants to join Ukraine and Israel funding without offsets. Additionally, the House is likely to take up the Legislative Branch, Interior and Environment, and Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations bills. Then the week of November 6, they are scheduled to take up the Financial Services and General Government, and Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bills, followed by Agriculture, and what is usually a very controversial appropriations bill, the Labor and Health and Human Services Appropriations bill. This is no short order.
Lastly, Speaker Johnson and his team will need to likely pass another Continuing Resolution before the November 17 funding deadline which is just three weeks away.
Conservatives are hopeful about Speaker Johnson, his world view, and work ethic. The job of Speaker of the House is a tough one, and even tougher with this small majority, so Johnson will likely need to rely on his right flank to ensure the House is able to advance conservative priorities.
In the Senate, all eyes are on the potential for “temporarily” changing the Senate rules to bypass what Senator Tuberville is doing to end the DoD’s abortion travel policy, by allowing the Senate to vote on hundreds of promotions en bloc. This would be especially damaging to the Senate as an institution. First, it would have to go through the sleepy Senate Rules Committee and then liberals want to set the threshold for passage on the floor at 60 or 67 to achieve a very high bipartisan vote total to avoid easily changing it back in the future. Second, the Senate is built on hundreds of years of precedent and changing this rule specifically has no limiting principle. Could they do this for judges? Political appointees? Legislation? Where is the line drawn? That is a question no one at the moment wants to answer.
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