The Issues Facing House Speaker Johnson
Author: Greg Valliere
October 26, 2023
BUT THERE ARE ISSUES that will generate controversy almost immediately: Johnson wants deep new spending cuts, he’s lukewarm about additional aid to Ukraine; and he has refused to acknowledge that Joe Biden won the presidency in 2020. Johnson sought to overturn the election outcome.
THE WASHINGTON MEDIA will hammer away at Johnson’s stance on those three issues, especially his refusal to acknowledge that Joe Biden won the presidency. But our sense is that Johnson will get a honeymoon of a few weeks.
THAT’S IMPORTANT, BECAUSE JOHNSON will need some breathing room. We think he will have to “kick the can” on a budget deal that probably cannot be finished by the Nov. 17 deadline — but he won’t seek a shutdown. Johnson is a strong supporter of Israel, which will get more aid, probably in a stand-alone bill. But aid to Ukraine could bog down, since Johnson and a large percentage of House Republicans don’t want to spend the money.
THERE’S LITTLE CHANCE that Johnson will have good relations with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jefferies, or with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, so these bills could quickly bog down.
AS FOR RELATIONS BETWEEN JOHNSON AND HIS Senate counterparts, we’re not optimistic. Many people on Capitol Hill think there will be a more civil tone, which may be the most to hope for. As for the issues, the gap between — and within — the two parties are wider than ever.
REPUBLICANS JOKED YESTERDAY that they were “Googling” Johnson, who has an extremely low profile and the least experience of any House Speaker in over a century. Everyone is ramping up on the issues; he’s determined to pass nine more appropriations bills before the Nov. 17 deadline.
A NEW EXPLOSIVE SPENDING BATTLE IS UNLIKELY until late winter, but a divisive battle looms — again — among Republicans who want to spend very little on Ukraine and others who will agree with traditional conservative Senators — like Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell — who want to spend more. In any event, the tone will be less strident.
AS FOR JOHNSON’S RELATIONS WITH BIDEN, the president’s call this week for $50 billion in new spending is dead on arrival. Biden has called for more funding for child care, high-speed internet access, natural disaster relief, and firefighters battling wildfires, among other domestic priorities.
REPUBLICANS WILL FOCUS ON economic anxiety, although this morning’s third quarter GDP report may have a 4-handle, reflecting the very strong third quarter growth, which will give Biden some bragging rights
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