Republican Mike Johnson, the untried speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, faces an early test of how well he can unify his splintered majority as he tries to avoid a partial government shutdown a little more than two weeks away.
The fourth-term lawmaker from Louisiana will try to pass three 2024 spending bills, which could help placate hardline conservatives, before turning to a stopgap measure to keep federal agencies funded past Nov. 17.
But tensions between party hardliners and centrists, which led to the historic ouster of Johnson’s predecessor early this month, are threatening to undermine the bills that would fund the legislative branch; transportation, housing and urban development; and the Department of the Interior and the environment through Sept. 30.
“They’re at risk,” said Representative Don Bacon, a centrist Republican from Nebraska who warned that hardline demands for deep spending cuts could further split the conference.
Johnson has already heeded hardliners’ demands by calling for a Thursday vote on a $14.3 billion bill to aid Israel in its war with Hamas. He has severed that aid from funding for Ukraine, despite objections by Democrats and some Republican moderates, and heeded hardline calls to pay for the aid by cutting money Democrats previously allocated to the Internal Revenue Service.