As the Nov. 17 deadline for a government shutdown looms, Washington grapples with a confluence of domestic political divides and escalating global conflicts. The recent appointment of far-right House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) follows a tumultuous three-week period during which Congress went without a Speaker, underscoring the deep divisions within the Republican Party.
Johnson, who desperately tries to endear himself to the twice-impeached and now four-times indicted former President Donald Trump’s maiden legislative venture, a $14 billion bill aimed at fortifying Israel’s defense against Hamas, drew sharp criticism for its exclusion of aid to Ukraine and substantial cuts to IRS funding.
The move, viewed as an overture to win favor with Trump, underscores Johnson’s conservative agenda. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) minced no words in his assessment of Johnson’s approach, emphasizing the bill’s lack of bipartisan support. “His first major legislative effort was not bipartisan at all,” Schumer stated. “And I think he’s going to learn the hard way that that doesn’t work.”
He further pointed out that both the president and he had reservations about the bill, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also did not endorse it.
Former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) leveled serious concerns about Johnson’s ascendancy to the Speaker’s chair, branding him as “dangerous” due to his support for overturning the 2020 election results. Cheney, a vocal critic of Trump during her congressional tenure, argued that Johnson’s actions contradicted his professed commitment to upholding the Constitution. She remarked, “He was willing to set aside what he knew to be the rulings of the courts, the requirements of the Constitution, in order to placate Donald Trump.”