New House Speaker Sets Ambitious Agenda for 2023
After 22 days and three others failed to garner the necessary votes, the House of Representatives elected relatively unknown Congressman Mike Johnson as the 56thSpeaker of the House. Speaker Johnson is a Republican member representing Louisiana’s 4th congressional district. He was first elected to Congress in 2016 and is currently serving his fourth term.
Speaker Johnson is a constitutional law attorney who has spent nearly 20 years successfully litigating high-profile cases nationwide in district and appellate courts. He is widely recognized as a leading opponent of abortion rights and a fervent supporter of religious liberty, free speech, the Second Amendment, and free market principles.
While not well-known to most Americans, Speaker Johnson was the Vice Chairman of the House Republican Conference, one of the seven elected leadership positions for Republicans in the House of Representatives, before being elected Speaker. He has served on the House Judiciary and Armed Services Committees in Congress. While he will almost certainly clash with Democrats on many high-profile issues, including abortion rights and funding priorities, Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) has acknowledged Speaker Johnson does have a good personal and working relationship with Democratic members on the House Judiciary Committee.
Agenda For The Remainder of 2023
Even before being formally elected by his peers, Speaker Johnson laid out an ambitious agenda for Congress for the remainder of the year. It includes finishing House consideration of the remaining eight appropriations bills for FY2024 before November 17, approving another Continuing Resolution (CR), passing a resolution condemning Hamas for its attack on Israel, approving the National Defense Authorization Act, and finishing work on the reauthorization of the FAA and the Farm Bill.
With another CR needed to extend government funding beyond the current November 17 deadline, Speaker Johnson has proposed that the next CR be extended to January 15 or April 15 based on a consensus among Republican House members to ensure the Senate cannot force the House to accept an omnibus spending bill as Congress tries to adjourn for the holidays.
The agenda in the House for the next three weeks will focus exclusively on finishing the Appropriations bills for FY2023 based on the following timeline laid out by the new Speaker:
This week: Energy and Water
Week of October 30: Legislative Branch, Interior and Environment; Transportation/HUD
Week of November 6: Financial Services; Commerce, Justice, Science
Week of November 13: Labor, HHS, and Education; Agriculture
After three weeks of no legislative activity, it is clear Congress will be extremely busy over the next several weeks to keep the door of the federal government open past November 17. It remains to be seen if the new Speaker will be able to successfully navigate the political and ideological challenges that tripped up his predecessor. However, Speaker Johnson was unanimously elected by his Republican colleagues, a feat of unity that has not happened since 2011. With just a four-seat majority, he will need that unity to continue if he hopes to complete the work he outlined in his agenda.