‘We’re sucking wind’: McHenry slams Johnson’s work as speaker

‘We’re sucking wind’: McHenry slams Johnson’s work as speaker

Rep. Patrick McHenry, the longtime adviser and interim successor to ousted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, sharply criticized Speaker Mike Johnson on Thursday over his handling of the budget, the border crisis and more during his first months in the job.

“We wish him great success,” the North Carolina Republican told reporters. “But he needs to widen the group of advisers he has. The loudest members of our conference should not dictate the strategic course of a smart majority — especially in the most complicated bits where those loudest voices are least likely to participate in the votes necessary.”

McHenry, who served as acting speaker after McCarthy was voted out last year, specifically cited Johnson‘s decision to split government funding bills into two packages and advance stopgap spending legislation.

That was “an active choice to extend the pain and create suffering,” McHenry said. “By us not executing the deal in December, we’ve cost the Defense Department four and a half billion dollars a month — out of an active choice by House Republicans. I think it’s a faulty choice. I think it’s a bad choice.”

There is no point in pushing the votes down the road, he said, because “the votes are going to be the same.”

“To draw out the calendar doesn’t actually help produce political wins, and it’s not actually shown to create policy wins,” McHenry said. “I’m here for policy wins.”

He said Johnson needs to accept that “Republicans control one-third of the negotiations,” so “we’re going to not get 100 percent of the wins.”

Continuing down this path could eventually cost Republicans the majority, McHenry said.

“If we keep extending the pain, creating more suffering, we will pay the price at the ballot box,” he said. “At this point, we’re sucking wind because we can’t get past the main object in the road. … We need to get the hell out of the way. Cut the best deals we can get and then get on with the political year.”

McHenry indicated that Johnson has not sought his counsel.

“I’m providing it right now,” he said.

McHenry urged Johnson to “seek the best for what is right in the political year” by compromising with Democrats when it comes to legislating on the border.

“The speaker should seek wider council than the loudest people who line up for the queue and should think strategically about what is best for the majority,” McHenry said. “You’ve got to think much more strategically than how we’ve approached it in the last three months.”

“Frankly, Democrats are not going to vote for a border wall,” he said. So “take the moment, man — take the policy win, bank it, and go back for more.”

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Author: By Eleanor Mueller