Just 105 days into his embattled Speakership, doubts are swirling around Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson‘s decision-making abilities, especially after two major votes in a row failed Tuesday night.
Johnson, the 52-year old Christian nationalist and four-term U.S. Congressman who rose to head the ultra-conservative House Republican Study Group, quickly became Vice Chair of the entire House GOP Conference, and then Speaker of the House, was hailed as a MAGA hero after far-right Republicans ousted Kevin McCarthy from his Speakership after just 269 days.
“What we’re witnessing now with @SpeakerJohnson defies easy definition,” wrote Punchbowl News‘ Jake Sherman Wednesday morning on the social media site X. “Johnson lost two massive votes on the floor yesterday — impeachment of @SecMayorkas and Israel aid. He knew the vote count on both. Yet he decided to proceed, choosing to lose in an embarrassing fashion. Several House Republican leadership aides were stunned that Johnson was in the speaker’s chair to gavel in losing votes.”
Sherman also reports, “Inside Johnson’s leadership circle, there are plenty who doubt his decision-making capability while being forced to begrudgingly execute his questionable strategies. And among rank-and-file House GOP lawmakers, there are a lot of people scratching their heads about where he’s leading them.”
“We’re now within a month of govt funding expiring. Israel-Ukraine-Taiwan could come over from the Senate. It’s only getting harder for Johnson,” Sherman observes.
The option of a motion to vacate – the procedure that removed Kevin McCarthy as Speaker – still exists. It was his handling of funding bills that derailed McCarthy’s short-lived time at the top.
“I don’t believe there are any coincidences,” declared Johnson, who was quick to inject religious right rhetoric into his Speakership literally from day one. “I believe that scripture, the Bible, is very clear that God is the one that raises up those in authority, he raised up each of you, all of us. And I believe that God has ordained and allowed us to be brought here to this specific moment and time.”
Speaker Johnson, like his predecessor, Speaker McCarthy, has a razor-thin majority. But so did Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her final years as Speaker. As the Brookings Institution noted near the end of her tenure as Speaker, Pelosi “never lost a leadership fight and rarely lost a legislative battle.”