House Speaker Johnson Faces Internal GOP Struggles

( – Upon his return to Washington, D.C., after Americans ring in the new year, Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson of Louisiana will have to unravel several challenges facing the country.

With deadlines for two government shutdowns around the corner, lawmakers must also continue their efforts to compose legislation that will secure more funds for Ukraine amid their ongoing war with Russia as well as to secure the southern border and halt the surge of immigrant crossings. The biggest challenge Johnson must surmount is gaining enough support and trust from his Republican conference.

Although lenient at the beginning after Johnson replaced former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in October, the GOP is now indicating they are running out of patience with the new House Speaker.

Republican Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee, one of the eight GOP members to vote McCarthy out of his chair, said he realizes “it’s a game of numbers” but that he’s also “ready to start taking some stands.” Others, such as Rep. Max Miller of Ohio, aren’t happy with the Speaker’s attempts to appease the hardliners in his party. Miller slammed Johnson for combining aid to Israel with funding cuts for the IRS into a single bill, which he called “disgusting.”

Another moderate Republican who’s unhappy with many socially conservative policies pushed by hardliners is Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania. He said his fellow party members are “not going to get a whole lot of support” for combining abortion policies into “financial service bills.”

Another hotly debated issue is a specific section in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Some Republicans criticized the Speaker’s sudden about-face on halting the reauthorization of Section 702 of FISA, which they argue violates the constitutional rights of American citizens who communicate with foreign nationals. Johnson previously opposed signing off on a short-term extension of FISA in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) but then changed his mind. Republican Rep. Cory Mills of Florida described efforts to “attach FISA to the NDAA” as “trickery” and the combining of unrelated bills as “poison pills.”

With an election year at their doorstep, Republicans could shoot themselves in the foot in 2024 if they can’t resolve their internal conflicts because the Democratic Party is much more likely to unify at the ballot box, no matter their disagreements.

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