Can Biden Fix House GOP's Looming Budget Disaster?

Mike Johnson
Speaker Johnson Delivers 'Horrible' Sermon At House GOP Retreat
Mike Johnson

Since Republicans took control of the House following the 2022 midterms, the U.S. has faced a crisis of governance. Unable to quit their own petty infighting, caught up in ugly leadership squabbles, and unwilling to move without the blessing of Donald Trump, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson now commands a Congress well past the brink of disaster. After being unable to pass necessary legislation and wasting endless hours on a faux impeachment inquiry of Biden that is going nowhere, Republicans have generated such a maelstrom of incompetence that it’s putting millions of lives and the stability of the planet at risk.

Contrary to what Republicans apparently believe, Congress is expected to do things. It has to meet the challenges of the day, promote policies that assist the nation, and deal with the day-to-day affairs that keep government functional. Since they gained their narrow margin, Republicans have done exactly none of these things.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden summoned Republican congressional leaders to a meeting at the White House. With Ukraine in retreat after running out of critical ammunition and a government shutdown only four days away, this could be the most consequential meeting in decades. Will Republicans wake up for one moment to place the nation and the world ahead of their desire to please Trump and feed their childish egos? Or will they drive the nation, and the world, onto the rocks?

After being selected for speaker on the basis that no one knew who the hell he was so no particular faction was out for his throat, Johnson has shown himself to be singularly inadequate for the role.

As Joan McCarter has reported, Johnson …

  • Swiftly burned through any honeymoon period and found that his every statement or action was being scrutinized by House members sure that they would do a better job in the big office.
  • He betrayed other congressional leaders by reneging on a budget deal after everyone thought the issues were settled.
  • When months of negotiations in the Senate produced a border bill that gave Republicans everything they had been demanding, Johnson refused to even consider it on orders from Trump.
  • With the clock winding down on the end of the year, Johnson wasted time on a pointless impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
  • With the stability of the Western world on the line, Johnson has repeatedly dithered and stalled on providing any assistance to Ukraine while Republicans increasingly look to Putin.
  • And with a government shutdown looming, Johnson sent the House out on a vacation that’s not set to end until three days before the deadline.

Johnson is not just courting disaster, he is a disaster. Either he’s astoundingly ineffectual, or he’s an arsonist set on burning down America. It’s genuinely unclear which of these things is true.

We may find out today.

“Every day that Speaker Johnson causes our national security to deteriorate, America loses,” said White House spokesman Andrew Bates. “And every day that he puts off a clean vote [on assistance to Ukraine], congressional Republicans’ standing with the American people plunges. Running away for an early vacation only worsens both problems.”

Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is tired of the incompetence on the other end of the Capitol. “Shutting down the government is harmful to the country. And it never produces positive outcomes—on policy or politics,” said McConnell.

At the same time everyone is trying to get Johnson to do his job, extremist Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus are doing everything they can to provide more road bumps.

Last week they submitted a list of policy riders to Johnson, including such nonsense items as zeroing out Mayorkas’ salary, blocking military members from traveling out of state to obtain abortions, and defunding environmental and climate policies. In all, there are more than 20 of these poison pills, and the Freedom Caucus is declaring that it will block any attempt to reach an agreement unless America is forced to swallow the whole bottle.

A real speaker, one with respect from the members of their party and the strength to push past fanatics bent on nothing more than causing disruption, would push past this. Unfortunately, America is saddled with Mike Johnson.

That doesn’t make a good outcome impossible, but it certainly makes it almost infinitely more difficult.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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