Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) expressed his enthusiasm to get the House of Representatives back in action with his first words from the podium.
Immediately after taking the oath of office, the new speaker turned to the full House and asked, “Would you all like to get right into governing?”
After 22 days of inaction, members on both sides of the aisle have been eager to get back to work. Minutes later, the House passed a resolution in support of Israel’s right to defend itself with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Mike Johnson Elected House Speaker, Ending 22 Days of Paralysis
Full List: House Vote for Speaker Mike Johnson
The rest of Mr. Johnson’s legislative agenda involves more complicated and divisive matters that will test his ability to maintain the fragile unity of the Republican conference and his pledge to deliver results for Americans.
Finish Appropriations by Nov. 17
Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) on Sept. 30 to extend current government funding for 45 days. Passing that bill cost the former speaker his job. The ensuing battle over the speakership consumed half of the time extension.
Passing the remaining eight appropriations bills is Mr. Johnson’s next priority. He aims to do so starting this week, which will allow the House to negotiate with the Democrat-controlled Senate from “a position of strength.”
That’s exactly what fiscal hawks, including the eight who voted to oust Mr. McCarthy, had been begging for.
Skeptical of continuing resolutions, which tend to produce a laissez-faire attitude toward spending, they were eager to pass single-subject appropriations bills under regular order.
But Nov. 17 is just 23 days away, which isn’t much time to pass that number of bills, reconcile them with the Senate, and get the president to sign off on them. So Mr. Johnson did not rule out the possibility of a second stopgap spending bill.
If needed, he would favor extending the deadline to Jan. 15 or Apr. 15 to avoid being forced to accept another massive omnibus spending bill, as was the case last year.
The new speaker has proposed using creative approaches to moving the spending bills quickly, including forcing some bills out of the appropriations committee and forming a working group to address problems in the farm bill, which failed to pass in September.
Act on Supplemental Funding Request
Beyond regular appropriations, President Joe Biden has requested some $105 billion in emergency aid to Ukraine, Israel, allies in the Indo-Pacific, and border security.
This will be tricky for the new speaker because many Republicans are leery of Ukraine aid. Yet there is a strong desire on both sides of the aisle to aid Israel.
Finish Farm Bill and NDAA in December
The House passed the National Defense Authorization Act in September, but it has not been reconciled with the Senate through a process known as “conferencing.”
This $886-billion legislation accounts for nearly half of discretionary spending and about 12 percent of all government spending.
Mr. Johnson aims to get this bill wrapped up and signed by the end of the year.
The Farm Bill is another huge piece of legislation, which comes due every five years.
It is a nearly $100 billion omnibus bill that covers a wide range of agriculture-related programs. Because this legislation deals with everything from farm subsidies to SNAP benefits, it can generate opposition on both sides of the aisle.
Get a Jump on 2025 Appropriations
Continuing resolutions and omnibus spending bills have been routinely used in recent years because Congress has not been able to agree on the 12 required appropriations bills by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.
Mr. Johnson wants to change that by adhering to the statutory milestones in the appropriations process.
That means passing a budget resolution by the end of April, passing 12 appropriations bills plus the NDAA and Water Resources Development Act by the end of July, and completing negotiations on that legislation with the Senate and White House by Sept. 30.
That entails a great deal of work, and the new speaker said there will be no six-week summer break if all bills are not passed by the end of July.
Fiscal hawks have been agitating that, but it represents a big change from business as usual in the House.
“This is an ambitious schedule,” Mr. Johnson told colleagues but said it was achievable.
Republican members expressed strong support for their new speaker’s ability to get things done.
“He’s going to deliver wins for the American people,” said Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.). “We’ve had members who have been here for 15 years saying they’ve never seen our conference as united as it is today.”
Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) said. “I firmly believe that with House Republicans now united and ready to get back to work, as our new speaker said, our best days lie ahead.”
What are the main points of contention in the agricultural and food policy bill that Speaker Johnson is committed to resolving?
Is another high-priority item on Speaker Johnson’s agenda. The bill, which addresses agricultural and food policy, has been a contentious issue in Congress, with disagreements over funding levels and program reforms. Mr. Johnson is committed to resolving these differences and passing a comprehensive Farm Bill before the end of December.
Address Immigration Reform
As the nation grapples with an ongoing immigration crisis, Speaker Johnson recognizes the need for comprehensive immigration reform. He aims to work with members from both parties to find common ground and develop a solution that addresses border security, provides a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and improves the legal immigration system. Immigration reform is a complex and sensitive issue, but Mr. Johnson remains optimistic that progress can be made.
In his inaugural speech as Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson expressed his enthusiasm and determination to get the House of Representatives back in action. After 22 days of inaction, members on both sides of the aisle are eager to work together and address pressing issues facing the nation. Speaker Johnson’s immediate focus is on passing the remaining appropriations bills to ensure government funding, but he also has a broader legislative agenda that includes immigration reform, addressing the Farm Bill, and finishing the National Defense Authorization Act.
While the road ahead may be challenging, Speaker Johnson is dedicated to maintaining the fragile unity within the Republican conference and delivering results for the American people. He understands the importance of bipartisan cooperation and is willing to explore creative approaches to move legislation forward quickly. Furthermore, he recognizes the urgency of supplemental funding requests, such as aid to Ukraine and support for Israel, despite potential challenges from members within his own party.
In conclusion, Speaker Mike Johnson is poised to lead the House of Representatives with energy and determination. He aims to bring the House back to action and tackle critical issues that have been stagnant for too long. With his focus on appropriations, supplemental funding, immigration reform, and resolving pending bills, Speaker Johnson is committed to delivering results for the American people and maintaining the unity of the Republican conference.
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