With just over a day to spare, the United States was able to prevent another government shutdown from happening on Thursday night. President Joe Biden signed a bill to keep federal agencies funded through the new year, which was seen as a bipartisan success. The newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson played a key role in securing the bill’s passage.
However, despite this short-term victory, analysts are concerned about Johnson’s long-term prospects as the leader of a fractured Republican caucus in the House of Representatives. Some believe that the bill’s passage indicates that the far-right in the GOP will support the new speaker, but others argue that these members have been deeply offended and will make life difficult for him and the rest of the Republican Party.
The bill was offered as an unusual two-step stopgap measure by Johnson, which passed in the House with almost unanimous support from the Democrats. However, almost 100 House Republicans voted against it, including the Freedom Caucus. This group of fiscal conservatives felt that the bill did not sufficiently address their concerns and that significant budget cuts were necessary.
Despite this backlash, Johnson hailed the bill’s passage as “a gift to the American people”, but the success of the bill has raised questions about the speaker’s future in a party that is shifting further to the right. Despite Johnson’s religius beliefs and support of former President Donald Trump, there are doubts about his ability to navigate the fiercely divided House and remain speaker for long. Despite this, analysts believe that Johnson’s relative inexperience and lack of political baggage could help him maintain his position over the short term, especially with the looming 2024 presidential election.