Johnson suggests he wants to lead GOP next Congress

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Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) suggested this week that he wants to remain at the top of the GOP in the next Congress despite fierce pushback from conservatives who are furious with his leadership style and want him gone at the end of the term — or even sooner. 

During an interview with “The Hill” on NewsNation that aired Wednesday, Johnson — who won the gavel in October following the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) — sold himself as an effective leader who deserves another two years with the gavel.

“I’m doing my duty, as I’ve been called by my colleagues to do. I’ll continue to do it as long as we’re effective — and I think we have been — and I have big plans for the Congress and for the country,” Johnson said when asked if he wants to be Speaker again in 2025.

“I think Donald Trump’s gonna win the White House. I think … Republicans will retake the Senate. And I’m convinced we’re gonna grow the House majority,” he continued. “We have a lot of important work to do, and I’ll serve in whatever capacity my colleagues think is appropriate.”

The comments from Johnson come as he finds himself in hot water with hard-line conservatives, a clash that escalated Wednesday when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) announced she will move to force a vote on the Speaker’s ouster next week. Only two Republicans — Reps. Thomas Massie (Ky.) and Paul Gosar (Ariz.) — have publicly joined Greene in backing the ejection push, a meager pool of support.

House Democratic leaders, nonetheless, announced Tuesday that they would vote to table an ouster resolution targeting Johnson, a vow that is all but certain to torpedo Greene’s effort.

But even if that happens, hard-liners — including those who don’t support the motion to vacate — have their sights set on blocking Johnson from the top GOP leadership position next Congress, hoping his days atop the GOP conference are numbered.

Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), the chair of the Freedom Caucus who has said now is not the time to remove the Speaker, suggested that a competitive race will be underway after the November elections to select a new GOP leader.

“The prudent thing is to do as much as we can to influence the best possible outcomes over the next six months to the election and then have a contest in November for Speaker,” he told reporters last month.

Those supporting Greene’s resolution have been even more explicit about Johnson’s leadership future. 

“We know that Mike Johnson can’t get a majority of Republicans in January,” Massie said Wednesday. “Even our colleagues who aren’t co-sponsors of this have privately admitted there is no way in hell they’re gonna vote for Mike Johnson to be Speaker in January.”

Greene echoed that sentiment last month, telling reporters Johnson is “definitely not going to be Speaker next Congress if we’re lucky enough to have the majority.”

Johnson’s fate will likely hinge on the outcome of November’s elections. If Republicans pick up seats in the House, he would be in a good position to take credit and argue his claim to another term. But the support threshold for securing the Speakership — 218 votes — is a high bar to meet, especially in the face of his conservative critics.

Last January, a small band of conservatives blocked McCarthy from winning the gavel during several votes, forcing the election to stretch out to 15 rounds.

Alternatively, if Republicans lose control of the House in November, Johnson would face a lower bar to winning the minority leader spot, which requires the backing of only half the conference. But defeat at the polls would also undermine his claims he should remain the party leader.

“I would be willing to bet that no matter what happens in the next election, he’s not coming back as either Speaker or minority leader,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said earlier in the year as Johnson was grappling with conservatives over Ukraine aid. 

Hard-line conservatives have been up in arms with Johnson after he cut a number of deals with Democrats on high-stakes legislation, including a sprawling package to fund the government, a bill to reauthorize the U.S.’s warrantless surveillance powers and legislation to send foreign aid to embattled U.S. allies, including Ukraine.

Johnson has pushed back on the criticism, pointing to the challenging dynamics he has been working through — leading a slim GOP majority in a divided Washington.

“I have to do my job. We have to do what we believe to be the right thing,” Johnson said Tuesday. “What the country needs right now is a functioning Congress. They need a Congress that works well, works together, and does not hamper its own ability to solve these problems.”

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