U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.) arrives for the House Republican Conference caucus meeting in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on January 10, 2024.

(Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

House GOP Revolt Again Shows 'Republicans Simply Can't Govern'

While the chamber's GOP leader brushed off concerns, others predict that "Johnson's days as speaker could be numbered."

Just over a week away from a partial government shutdown, 13 far-right Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday protested Speaker Mike Johnson's bipartisan spending deal by joining Democrats to tank an unrelated procedural vote.

Congressional Democrats, Capitol Hill journalists, and other observers highlighted the development as further proof of "Republicans in disarray" as the January 19 deadline looms. Some government agencies are funded until then; others have until February 2.

"The House is essentially frozen again. The GOP leadership cannot bring up any bills that are not already noticed on the suspension calendar. And conservatives just killed leadership's ability to bring up any bills under a rule," Punchbowl News' Jake Sherman explained, calling the House "ungovernable" and the vote "an unmitigated disaster" for Republicans.

"House Republicans are intent on having 2024 in Congress look a lot like it did in 2023: full of dysfunction and chaos."

Decrying "another week of House GOP chaos and confusion," U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) similarly declared that "the incompetence of Republican leadership is a total unmitigated disaster for this country."

Other House Democrats also piled on and stressed that a government shutdown is just nine days away.

"So far, it seems House Republicans are intent on having 2024 in Congress look a lot like it did in 2023: full of dysfunction and chaos," asserted Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.).

"Deja vu! House Republicans have lost control of the House floor, again. House Republicans have repeatedly shown that they cannot govern," said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.).

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) agreed, saying that "Republicans simply can't govern," and separately pointing out that "they're leading the least productive Congress since the Great Depression—it's an embarrassment."

Last October, far-right House Republicans ousted then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)—who ultimately resigned from Congress at the end of last year, reducing his party's majority—and eventually replaced him with Johnson (R-La.), after Reps. Tom Emmer (D-Minn.), Steve Scalise (R-La.), and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) all abandoned their speakership bids.

While Johnson's election was seen as a sign of the far-right's hold on the Republican Party, he and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) still reached a spending agreement on Sunday that largely aligns with the deal McCarthy and President Joe Biden negotiated last year while passing the Fiscal Responsibility Act to prevent a U.S. default.

Johnson and Schumer agreed to $886 billion for defense and nearly $773 billion for nonmilitary spending for fiscal year 2024. The Senate leader and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) also said Sunday that they made clear to Johnson that "Democrats will not support including poison pill policy changes in any of the 12 appropriations bills."

NBC Newsnoted that before the vote on Wednesday, Johnson "did not rule out another short-term funding bill to avert a shutdown later this month, a shift from December when he vowed there would be no more stopgap bills in 2024."

Explaining the far-right revolt, House Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good (R-Va.) reportedly told journalists, "We're making a statement that the deal, as has been announced—that doesn't secure the border and doesn't cut out spending and is going to be passed apparently under suspension of the rules with predominantly Democrat votes—is unacceptable."

According toPolitico:

As the vote failed, Johnson left the floor and huddled in his office with Republicans on the Rules Committee, including Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), who has flirted with trying to oust the speaker after the topline spending agreement.

"We'll see," Roy said as he was leaving Johnson's office about the potential that additional bills go down. "Right now, the point here is that we're not remotely satisfied."

Appearing on Fox News after the revolt on Wednesday, Johnson stressed that he, too, is a "conservative hardliner" and acknowledged the frustrations of Roy and others, while also dismissing concerns that he may be ousted like McCarthy was just a few months ago.

Johnson said that "I don't think I'm in any jeopardy of being 'vacated,'" but others were quick to frame the vote as a signal that a motion to vacate may be coming soon.

"The GOP can't manage to pass rules (largely unheard of before this Congress), they're about to chase off another speaker, and they're showing revenge porn in committee again... The 118th Congress," said Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.).

Democratic strategist Sawyer Hackett declared: "Here we go again. A dozen or so Republicans are blocking passage of a rules vote to protest Speaker Johnson agreeing to a spending deal similar to McCarthy. Johnson's days as speaker could be numbered."

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