Conservatives rebuke new House speaker
Some Republicans use a procedural vote to pressure Mike Johnson to follow through with spending cuts
Just 21 days into his tenure as speaker of the House, Mike Johnson on Wednesday felt the weight of his party’s expectations on spending.
On Wednesday morning, 19 Republicans sank a procedural vote, effectively killing a pair of bills that were scheduled for a floor vote before legislators head home for Thanksgiving. One of the bills would have called on the president to block Iran’s access to $6 billion in previously frozen funds. The other would approve federal spending on commerce, justice, and science for 2024.
The procedural vote said little about the substance of the bills themselves—both were legislative items that Republicans generally support. Instead, the vote showed how displeased some Republicans are with the new speaker’s performance so far. It also burned valuable time before the government must readdress spending or risk a shutdown.
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., voted against the bill.
“We’re done with out-of-control spending,” Boebert said. “I think [Johnson] understands.”
Conservative Republicans in the House expected Johnson to fight for some sort of spending cuts before passing another funding package. Faced with a government shutdown that would have gone into effect on Friday, Johnson brought a temporary funding bill to the floor that extends current 2023 federal spending through January and February. The move temporarily keeps virtually the same spending levels as when Democrats controlled the chamber under Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
To members like Boebert and the other 18 Republicans who voted against the bill, that’s unacceptable. To others such as Rep. Marcus Molinaro, R-N.Y., the temporary funding isn’t optimal, but it gives Republicans time to work on funding the government in 2024 before the next deadline in January.
“It’s going to take a lot more negotiation. We have to work a lot harder to come to decisions and move legislation forward,” Molinaro said following the Wednesday vote.
The current government spending resolution runs out in two stages: half on Jan. 19 and the other half on Feb. 2. But because of holidays, other legislative priorities, and weeks when members are in their districts, just under 20 days remain when legislators will be in Washington to get the job done.
Molinaro believes the conservative Republicans have made their point. It’s time to get the ball rolling.
“They want time to revisit,” Molinaro said. “Leadership should be given that time to work it out with them. However, I do think we should be spending the next seven days in real negotiation and I’m expecting that we will in order to get the final appropriations bills to the floor.”
In addition to consolidating Republican support behind the spending bills, Johnson must also begin talks with the Senate to have any shot at turning the House-passed legislation into law.
Boebert recognized that the procedural delay from Wednesday’s vote gives Republicans less time to work with. She hopes that puts pressure on Johnson to find a solution.
“Well, better get it right then,” Boebert said. “Not a lot of time to waste.”
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