Far-Right Confident Johnson Will Let Them Continue Hijacking Government

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Hardline Republicans, who are throwing a literal House floor temper tantrum over Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-LA) deal with Democratic leadership, emerged from a meeting with the speaker Thursday confident he’d soon hand over his spine.

“It’s not going to be the current deal,” Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) said this afternoon after leaving the meeting.

“There’s going to be a new deal drawn up, and that’s what we’re in the process of doing,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said, according to several reports.

Norman, Greene and other members of the far-right flank that has been grinding normal legislating to a halt for the entire year are protesting the deal that Johnson struck with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) over the weekend, which would cap the total on spending bills that Congress needs to pass to avert a shutdown at $1.7 trillion. Hardliners want to see spending cuts far deeper than what Johnson was able to pull out of Schumer and they also want any spending bills that pass with their support to include culture-war riders that are dead-on-arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

It’s the same set of non-negotiables they used to hijack typical appropriations processes and halt legislating entirely during ex-Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) tenure as speaker. It appears the same handful of complainers are hoping they can again use their party’s thin majority to force Johnson to debase himself in the same way that McCarthy did in order to get what they want — an easy reelection thanks to their supposed commitment to austerity and fighting against the “woke.”

It’s not yet clear whether Johnson will follow the McCarthy playbook. Upon exiting the same exact meeting today, Johnson told reporters that he, in fact, had not committed to scrapping his entire deal with Dems.

“We’re having thoughtful conversations about funding options and priorities. … While those conversations are going on, I’ve made no commitments, so if you hear otherwise it’s just simply not true,” Johnson said.

The new speaker’s options are limited. He can either keep his deal with Schumer, pass spending bills that will actually pass the Senate with House Democrats’ support and keep the government open, but risk losing his new gig. Or, he can bend to the will of the few objectors, irritate moderates in his party who are already on board with the Schumer deal and risk a shutdown when funding runs out next week.

The dynamic hasn’t changed in a year and is part of why, as TPM reported, the breathless coverage of the back-to-back speakership elections in the fall was misguided. It never actually mattered who House Republicans finally handed the gavel. The new speaker was always doomed by the same sword of Damocles that hung over McCarthy’s head: the one-person threshold for filing a motion to vacate the speakership, a concession McCarthy handed his detractors in order to secure the gig in the first place.

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