Jan 10, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Mike Johnson urges fellow Republicans to leave him alone on social media

Photographer: Craig Hudson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Photographer: Craig Hudson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) called behind closed doors on Wednesday for his fellow Republicans to stop criticising him and his budget negotiations on social media, per two sources inside the room.

Why it matters: With just days to avert a partial government shutdown, conservatives are slamming Johnson's topline budget agreement with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), alleging it does not go far enough to include GOP priorities and cut spending.

  • Facing a Jan. 19 deadline, some hardliners have said they are not opposed to shutting down the government in an attempt to get more concessions.
  • Democrats have noted that Republicans have very little leverage due to their razor-thin majority and Democrats controlling the Senate and White House.

Inside the room: The speaker laid out the plan before his members, looking to dispel the notion that it lacks conservative wins, noting the recissions to IRS and COVID funding as Freedom Caucus members railed against it accusing him not fighting hard enough.

  • The speaker — who has traditionally spoken out against government shutdowns — also told members there wasn't a viable path to get more given the current political circumstances.
  • Johnson asked members to share their grievances within Republican conference meetings before talking to reporters or posting on social media, according to a source in the room.

What they're saying: Proponents of the deal have argued that Republicans won't win with a shutdown and need to get spending behind them so they can focus on other priorities, while critics are saying that they need to fight more for cuts even if it means shutting down the government.

  • Conservative Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) emerged furious, telling reporters that Johnson "should never have been hired."
  • "Lots of grumbling about the spending agreement," another GOP member told Axios during the meeting.
  • But another source in the room said multiple members expressed support for the deal.

The big picture: The odds of lawmakers being able to hash out deals on individual spending bills by their Jan. 19 and Feb. 2 deadlines are unlikely.

  • Republicans are going to need significant Democratic support to get any spending measure passed to sidestep procedural hurdles, requiring two-thirds of the chamber to support the measure.
  • A short-term and long-term stopgap have not been ruled out as potential options.
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