Challenges Speaker Johnson Could Face

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Now that the House is back in order with a new Speaker, it doesn’t guarantee smooth sailing ahead. They could face some challenges sooner rather than later, like passing spending bills by mid-November. The question on the Hill: can this new and relatively unknown Speaker help get the job done without issues? 

Mike Johnson (R- LA) won the gavel on Wednesday. Making him one of the most influential and powerful leaders in Washington.  

“Nobody knew Johnson’s name before last week and that helped him secure the speakership,” said Todd Belt, professor and director of political management at George Washington University.  

Belt said Johnson will have a bit of a honeymoon period in his new role but that might end soon. Now that the House is back in order, they need to finalize spending bills before mid-November.   

“The new Speaker is going to have to keep everyone together and some of these hard right conservatives said they want much deeper cuts than what was negotiated between [Kevin] McCarthy and the president,” said Belt.” The Senate is on board with those and he’s going to have to work with the Senate.” 

It might not be an easy task for the new Speaker. Under former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s tenure, we saw how just a handful of hard-right republicans held up these spending bills from passing through. They demanded steeper cuts and adding conservative changes to some military policies. McCarthy working across the aisle became the tipping point for some House republicans and a reason why they voted to oust him.   

“Ultimately, he needs democratic votes,” said Belt. “Whether those votes are in his chamber or those democratic votes in the Senate and by the way the president is also a democrat so he can’t just push through whatever the hard right wants.” 

Belt said one of the biggest challenges Speaker Johnson will face is learning how to cut deals with people who could potentially be impediments when he wants something to pass through. Another challenge Belt said to keep watch for is about how the Speaker will react to hot button issues like gun control. We could hear calls for congress to do more on gun control following Wednesday’s mass shooting in Maine.