Tag: mike johnson
Mike Johnson

Shutdown Clock Ticking As GOP Plays Games With State Of The Union

Five months into the 2024 fiscal year, House Republicans still can’t agree on how to fund the government, with a partial shutdown deadline on Friday. While they’re nearly half a year behind on this fundamental task, some of them are playing games with President Joe Biden, agitating House leadership to disinvite him from giving the State of the Union address if he doesn’t send them a 2025 budget beforehand.

Seriously. Here’s Freedom Caucus member Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania telling Fox News that Biden’s speech should be blocked until he sends his proposed budget: “He comes at the invitation of Congress. Republicans are in charge of the House. There’s no reason that we need to invite him.”

They even have a bill in the works to prevent future presidents from delivering the SOTU if they haven’t submitted a budget by the first Monday in February. That’s the deadline set by law, though there’s no enforcement mechanism in the law, and presidents missing the deadline is common. The law wouldn’t apply until next year, but Republicans seem to think it makes them look serious to have a bill, and they will use it to argue for blocking Biden’s speech this year.

“This is irresponsible,” Rep. Buddy Carter of Georgia said to Fox News. “Until Congress receives the president’s national security strategy and budget, he has no business delivering a State of the Union address.”

While Republicans are trying to shift the budget mess onto Biden, they’re facing a Friday deadline to stop a partial government shutdown this year, and they are foundering. The House isn’t even back from the Presidents Day recess until Wednesday, and Speaker Mike Johnson clearly doesn’t have a handle on the situation. Johnson whined about it to members of the GOP conference in a call Friday night, complaining that they are undermining his bargaining position with their constant infighting and chaos.

Members of the Freedom Caucus, meanwhile, are refusing to back down from their demands that a slew of poison-pill policy riders be included in the funding package and for more border security funding—after Republicans killed the Senate’s bipartisan border security bill.

"The only money we're giving to America is to secure our border,” Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) told Fox on Monday.

House and Senate negotiators were aiming to release a bipartisan agreement Sunday night, but the talks broke down over the House hard-liners intransigence. “Unfortunately, extreme House Republicans have shown they’re more capable of causing chaos than passing legislation,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote to his colleagues Sunday night. “It is my sincere hope that … Speaker Johnson will step up to once again buck the extremists in his caucus and do the right thing.”

To that end, Biden has entered the fray, setting up a meeting Tuesday with the top four congressional leaders—Biden, Senate leaders Schumer and Mitch McConnell, Johnson, and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries—where hopefully the combined forces of Biden, Schumer, and Jeffries can strengthen Johnson’s spine against the extremists.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Mike Johnson

With IVF Ban, Fakery On Abortion Rights Is Biting Republicans Hard

The Life at Conception Act is the legal jewel in the anti-abortion crown, a federal law that would recognize a fertilized egg – Alabama’s so-called extrauterine child – as a human being with all the rights and protections provided to the rest of us under the 14th Amendment. The Life at Conception Act, which has no exceptions for IVF or any other fertility treatments, would amount to an automatic nationwide ban on abortions with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the mother.

The law would override state laws permitting abortion. In states with limits on abortion, such as a ban after six or 15 weeks, the law would cancel those time limits as well.

It’s an extreme anti-abortion law that would take the end of Roe v. Wade to the next level, completely taking away a woman’s right to control her own reproductive life in every state in the Union.

For 125 House Republicans who have co-sponsored the Life at Conception Act, and the 19 Senators who signed onto an identical bill in the last Congress, the act was a no-brainer. If you were a Republican and you called yourself pro-life, you were for the Life at Conception Act, no questions asked.

Until now.

This week the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision declaring every fertilized egg a person immediately called into question the status of all the fertilized eggs at fertility clinics in the state and caused the closing of several, among them, the state’s most prominent. The Alabama decision flipped the anti-abortion script. The question became, “do you support in vitro fertilization?”, and Republican hands started popping up all over. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, an avowed Christian Nationalist who made his sponsorship of the Life at Conception Act a signature part of his agenda which includes support for the establishment of a national religion – Christianity, natch – raised his hand along with all the other Republicans who have found “Reverse” on their gear shifts.

On Thursday, Johnson was still pushing for co-mingling of Biblical principles in our system of secular laws and supporting overturning laws legalizing homosexual acts and same-sex marriage. If asked he thought frozen embryos were children as the Life at Conception Act says they are, he would have high-fived you. But by Friday evening, Johnson was fulsomely praising the very thing Alabama had just banned. “I believe the life of every single child has inestimable dignity and value,” Johnson squeaked. “That is why I support I.V.F. treatment, which has been a blessing for many moms and dads who have struggled with fertility.”

You will note that Mike limited his support of IVF to “moms and dads.” Gay and lesbian couples who want children using IVF? Not so much.

The days that Republicans could say they were pro-life and forget about the details are over. It turns out that being anti-abortion wasn’t about the fetus as much as it was about the votes. Today, the anti-abortion movement is all about trying to find a way through the minefield the issue has become for them. Laws about abortion in red states have turned into a pick-your-timeframe smorgasbord.

Republicans who used to say they are pro-life are all of a sudden for abortion but with caveats. Take Donald Trump, who this week was exposed trying to carve out a new position for himself that split the difference and as he put it, “make everyone happy.” Trump is all for aborting fetuses up to 16 weeks of pregnancy. Then he’s against abortion. In Florida, they’re pro-abortion up to 15 weeks, but only for the time being, while a new law works its way through the courts making abortion illegal after six weeks. Some red states, like Arkansas and Alabama and Mississippi and Louisiana, have banned abortion completely, without exceptions for rape or incest. Other states have limits. In Arizona, abortion is legal up to 15 weeks; in Georgia, it’s legal up to six weeks; in Nebraska it's legal up to 12 weeks; in Ohio, aborting a fetus is legal up to 22 weeks, but after that it’s illegal with no exceptions for rape or incest; same with Wisconsin, where abortion is legal up to 22 weeks, and after that, it’s illegal except to save the life of the mother, but not for reasons of rape or incest.

Do you see what’s going on here? Republicans are against abortion except when they’re not. When the vote wind is being blown by suburban woman, some Republicans find a way to legalize abortion up to some arbitrary number of weeks. Republicans appear to be out there like fishermen, casting their lines for votes: Hey, I got a bite at 12 weeks! The Republican down the river hooks his votes at 15 weeks!

They’re all looking for a sweet spot with the abortion issue, and where they land depends, as ever, on what state we’re in. Trump seems to be betting he can con women by making abortion legal up to 16 weeks, a new number Trump pulled out of the air. But give him some time, and he’ll find another number, once he’s stuck his finger in the air and checked which way the votes are blowing.

Whatever they pick – and by “they,” I mean Republican state legislators and governors and candidates like Trump – at the tick of the clock past midnight on the last day of that arbitrary number, the fetus magically becomes a child and you can’t abort it, because…well, because Republicans say so, that’s why.

It's going to be fun watching Republicans running for the exits from the Life at Conception Act, because last week Alabama started a fire and anyone clinging to it is going to get burned. You’d like to think, wouldn’t you, that somehow Republicans are coming to their senses on the issue of reproductive rights, but that is not what’s happening. Instead, they’ve got their metal detectors out and they’re waving them across the ground in front of them trying to find their way through the minefield they’ve created for themselves.

Yesterday, Republicans thought they could moderate their anti-abortion position by giving an inch on exceptions for rape or incest. Today, it’s IVF. But the truth is, they don’t believe anything they say about when life begins, or when a fetus becomes a child, or when a legal abortion should suddenly become illegal. Despite the best efforts of Republicans like Mike Johnson to yap about abortion out of one side of their mouths and Jesus out of the other, abortion isn’t about morality, it’s about votes.

Watch these shapeshifters. IVF bit them in the ass, and they don’t want to get bitten again. We’re going to need X-ray vision to find our way through the fog of Republican obfuscation and quick-change reversals and outright red-in-the-face lies ahead of us.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

Mike Johnson

'Insecure' House Speaker Faces Raging Divisions In GOP Congress

After former Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was ousted as speaker, thanks in part to a "motion to vacate" from Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), the House of Representatives' small Republican majority went through weeks of chaos before confirming Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) for the position.

Johnson, after his confirmation, promised to end the chaos and run the House like a "well-oiled machine." But the chaos remains as his caucus deals with everything from GOP resignations to the possibility of a partial government shutdown.

Bloomberg News reporters Steven T. Dennis and Billy House examine Johnson's problems in an article published on February 23.

According to the journalists, "multiple senior House Republicans" who were interviewed on condition of anonymity "now portray Johnson as an insecure leader who faces a steep learning curve."

"Those GOP lawmakers complain Johnson keeps counsel mostly with an insular circle of his own staffers on even the most challenging matters — and that some senior colleagues are treated as objects of suspicion rather than allies," Dennis and House explain. "They cite two back-to-back humiliating defeats in one early February evening, when the House not only rejected an Israel-only war aid package Johnson put up for a vote, but also, a marquee Republican impeachment resolution against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas…. Johnson rallied his party the following week to impeach Mayorkas on a second try, prevailing by a single vote after Republican Steve Scalise returned from cancer treatment."

Johnson, according to Dennis and House, is coping with "a Republican majority at war with itself." And conservative Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) is warning that House Republicans will suffer politically if they drop the ball with military aid to Ukraine.

"If (Vladimir) Putin wins," the reporters quote Tillis as saying, "Republicans will lose."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Mike Johnson

Speaker Follows Impeachment Charade With Call To End 'Political Posturing'

House Speaker Mike Johnson has plenty of excuses for not taking up the Ukraine aid package the Senate passed early this week, saying that he’s just got too many serious issues on his plate to help in the fight for democracy against Russian totalitarianism. He told reporters Wednesday morning that “we have to address this seriously, to actually solve the problems and not just take political posturing as has happened in some of these other corners.”

Yes, he seriously accused Ukraine aid proponents of “political posturing” just hours after he led House Republicans in their second—barely successful—sham impeachment vote of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. By the way, that reporter’s question was spot on. Johnson effectively killed the original Senate bill that included a border security package by saying it would be dead on arrival in the House. Now he complains that the aid bill “has not one word about the border.”

Johnson also insists that he’s too busy figuring out how to avoid a government shutdown on March 1 and that it will take time for his team to “process” the Senate’s package. Guess what’s not on the House schedule this week? That’s right: Any appropriations bills to fund the government ahead of the looming deadline. Again, he was able to carve out more time to impeach Mayorkas and to force the Senate to deal with that just days before the government funding deadline.

The Senate is out until Feb. 26 and is going to have to deal with the Mayorkas impeachment as soon as they return. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer outlined the process in a statement, indicating that the House impeachment managers will “present the articles of impeachment to the Senate” as soon as they’re back in, and “[s]enators will be sworn in as jurors in the trial the next day.”

Which means two days of valuable Senate time will be wasted on this because the Senate will never vote to convict Mayorkas, but they have to deal with it anyway. They’ll dispense with it as quickly as the Senate can do anything, but they need every hour for the long process of passing the bills to keep the government from shutting down.

That process between the House and Senate is going nowhere fast because of all the poison-pill riders about abortion, contraception, and trans issues the House Republicans crammed into their spending bills.

On top of all that, Johnson—who just spent an embarrassing week and a half of floor time impeaching one of Biden’s cabinet members—is now demanding that Biden take him seriously and have a face-to-face meeting with him on the Ukraine bill. A White House spokesperson told NBC that Johnson “needed to wrap the negotiations he has having with himself and stop delaying national security needs in the name of politics.” Biden is not included to help Johnson out of this one.

“That body language says: ‘I know I’m in a tough spot. Please bail me out,’” one Democrat involved with the supplemental aid package told NBC.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.