Johnson faces conservative blowback over latest spending patch

Johnson faces conservative blowback over latest spending patch

Speaker Mike Johnson’s new short-term spending plan is sparking quick pushback from his right flank, who wanted to use the funding deadlines to crackdown along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Johnson, during a conference call Sunday night, defended the two-tier plan that would set another pair of short-term funding deadlines for March 1 and March 8. He also reiterated Republicans’ view that their sweeping immigration bill that passed last year is their starting point for any border talks.

But that did little to quell immediate pushback from hardline conservatives, who have argued for Johnson to shut down the government without border concessions.

“Enough with the continuing resolutions. We’ve had plenty of time to address funding levels. Congress keeps punting this while our southern border remains a mess and our national debt continues to surge. We are doing the American people a disservice,” said Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.).

Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) pressed Johnson during the call if there was a plan to counter the Senate’s forthcoming border-foreign aid deal, while Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), another Freedom Caucus member, asked Johnson if he was going to tie the House’s border bill to government funding, according to two sources on the call.

Already a handful of House Republicans have said they would oppose a continuing resolution (CR) with that number likely to grow into the dozens this week. Ninety three Republicans voted against his two-tier spending plan last year and amid fierce backlash Johnson promised conservatives at the time that he wouldn’t use another short-term spending patch.

House Republicans are “planning to pass a short-term spending bill continuing Pelosi levels with Biden policies, to buy time to pass longer-term spending bills at Pelosi levels with Biden policies. This is what surrender looks like,” the Freedom Caucus said on Sunday night about the stopgap plan.

But other members pushed back against the idea that the push for border policy at the cost of shutting the government down was not tactically sound.

“That position might make for a good soundbite but it’s strategic incompetence. We have two possible leverage points to get border security: our own budget, or Ukraine aid. You’d rather hold hostage our own troops’ pay? Or hold hostage Ukraine aid?” Rep. Dan Crewshaw (R-Texas) said in a statement to POLITICO.

“Anyone advocating we hold our own military hostage is either strategically incompetent or prefers losing yet another battle on border policy changes. Some might even be afraid of giving up the border as a campaign issue. They don’t want a solution.”

This consternation on his right flank is not new.

Johnson has faced public attacks from his own party over his bipartisan, top-line spending deal with congressional leaders, with a group of conservatives pressing him last week to renege on his previously agreed upon deal and start a new one — a request that heightened the chances of a shutdown. That meeting triggered a flurry of other centrist and rank-and-file Republicans to warn him against breaking the terms of his agreement, particularly as they head deeper into election season.

Already, some are raising the prospect of moving to oust Johnson just like his predecessor, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Earlier Sunday, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who has floated the idea of a motion to vacate, went even further, telling Fox News that she would use the ouster tool if Johnson green-lights Ukraine aid as part of a broader aid package that Republicans argue must include border policy.

On Friday, the Louisiana Republican made a public statement that he would stick with his original plan, which largely mirrors top-line numbers reached by McCarthy and the White House last year. And he argued privately over the past week that this is the reality of a two-seat majority, where they have limited leeway to push for their demands in a divided government without triggering a shutdown. Johnson also faced pushback from other corners of his conference, as well Democrats, over the idea of a year-long CR.

“Because the completion deadlines are upon us, a short continuing resolution is required to complete what House Republicans are working hard to achieve: an end to governance by omnibus, meaningful policy wins, and better stewardship of American tax dollars,” Johnson said in a statement Sunday night about the short-term spending patch.

Johnson weighed in against the Senate’s forthcoming border deal over the weekend, though the top GOP negotiator, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), indicated the negotiations were being misrepresented.

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Author: By Olivia Beavers and Jordain Carney