The People’s Predicament: Johnson’s dilemma could be that of any modern speaker

by Will Tubbs

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News

The lower chamber of Congress is often fondly referred to as the “People’s House”, a title that carries both positive and negative connotations. 

In the best of times, the House of Representatives is where the voice of the common man, in all its geographic diversity, has the best chance of being heard. In times like these, when the nation has fractured into a small handful of affinity groups, the People’s House comes to reflect the logjam that has become of We the People. 

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.) is currently staring down the reality of this state of being as he is struggling to balance the moderate and conservative branches of his party while also trying to put forth legislation that will clear a Democrat-led Senate. 

It’s a delicate balance fraught with peril for his political future. Johnson, like Kevin McCarthy before him, faces his staunchest opposition on the right, where hardline fiscal conservatives have been left furious after Johnson struck a deal with Democrats to fund the government. 

He’s already facing a call for his ouster from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). It’s an effort Greene has made alone and thus far unsuccessfully, but it speaks to the challenge Johnson faces. 

“So far we have had Uniparty leadership under Speaker Johnson that has passed Biden’s destructive Democrat agenda with overwhelming Democrat support,” Greene posted on X earlier this week. “If this is the future if the Republican Party after Trump, our Republican voters will abandon us. I will not allow this.”

The Washington Examiner reports that, on Capitol Hill, Johnson needs a legislative miracle to smooth over the in-party differences.

Johnson is an intelligent man – he holds a jurist doctorate and has worked in higher education – so it’s unlikely these developments have taken him by surprise. And it’s equally likely that he’s taking what has become the only way forward for any modern speaker of the house who wishes to enact real conservative change. 

Before becoming speaker, few congressmen spoke louder about conservative values, but he has thus far achieved precious little in the areas of fiscal responsibility and immigration, two of the issues of most importance to the Freedom Caucus. 

Johnson is in a tough spot. The Freedom Caucus alone can’t pass legislation through even the House, much less the Senate and White House. Thus, he must negotiate with Democrats and moderate Republicans.

Indeed, this week he is negotiating directly with the White House over a $95 billion foreign security package that would send another massive payment to Ukraine … and leave the Freedom Caucus fuming.

“There’s been no agreement reached,” Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) told the Associated Press. “Obviously there would have to an agreement reached not just with the White House, but with our own members.”

Chief among those with whom Johnson will need to strike an understanding will be former President Donald Trump, with whom Johnson seems to have fallen out of favor. At a minimum, Trump has soured on Johnson’s Congressional strategy.

Trump spoke out against a measure put forth by Johnson that would extend the FISA court and leave open the broad channels of spying allowed under the  Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Freedom Caucusers have long opposed the extension of the act, even as members of the party have championed it. This week, that opposition grew stronger when Trump posted that he wanted FISA to die a legislative death.

 “I’m against the reauthorization of FISA altogether,” Greene posted on X Thursday night. “I disagree with the people telling President Trump that this “new” version of FISA is A-OK. I do not trust giving the Biden administration the ability to spy on any of us. KILL FISA!”

Later in the night, Greene added, “With the incredible amount of effort being given to reauthorize FISA you would think we are stopping terrorists and criminals from coming across our border to kill Americans. But we’re not. It’s just incredible manipulation going on to make sure the almighty government still has the power to spy on you if they choose to without you even knowing it.”

Thus far, Freedom Caucus Republicans have managed to stall the FISA extension, which is as much a sign that they are angry with Johnson as they are opposed to the act, even though both statements ring true. 

In response to news that the White House, and by inference all Democrats, oppose a proposal from Freedom Caucus member Rep. Andy Biggs (Az.) that would extend FISA but add major restrictions on what federal authorities could do without a warrant, the Freedom Caucus posted on X, “Does the @HouseGOP stand with Joe Biden or with Americans and their constitutional rights? We’ll find out tomorrow.”

The New York Times reports that Trump and Johnson will meet this week, ostensibly to announce new plans Republicans have for election integrity. It will be interesting to see where things stand coming out of that meeting. 

Trump has proven that he wields sufficient sway in the House to get a speaker removed. McCarthy learned the lesson the hard way after he cozied up too closely to what Trump and the Freedom Caucus view as the establishment. 

Johnson, who is to the right of McCarthy, might be next on the chopping block. However, if Johnson were to be removed, the real question would be can anyone serve as speaker to the satisfaction of MAGA Republicans? 

In reality, given the current makeup of Congress, the answer is likely no, or more accurately, yes, but at the expense of any legislative progress. 

Barring a major shift in the next election, the logjam will go on as will the necessity for conservatives to haggle with Democrats and moderate Republicans. 

It’s a fact Trump seems to appreciate. Thursday, on Truth Social, he posted “Crooked Joe Biden is the worst, most incompetent, and most corrupt president in the history of our Country. But it’s very important to understand, the problem is not just Joe Biden—it’s every single elected Democrat in the House and Senate.”