House Speaker Mike Johnson unveiled the measure less than a week before funding from a short-term bill passed in September was set to expire.

But dissent from within his own party over its lack of spending cuts or funding for border security required Johnson to rely on Democratic votes to get it over the finish line.

So, how many Democratic votes did he need have? Or alternatively putting it, how many Republicans voted against? Well, we get a hint there:

All but two Democrats voted to pass the measure, while dozens of Republicans opposed it.

So, more interestingly [for me], how is this different from what got McCarthy vacated, whose gavel loss IIRC was motivated in part by his reliance on Democratic votes for something similar?

1 Answer 1


What has changed is the will of the right wing of the Republican party to force what amounts to a vote of confidence in their new speaker.

In September, the calculation was that by ousting McCarthy, they would be able to install a member of their caucus (Jordan) to this role, who would propose significant spending cuts. That failed, and it was clear that there were 20 or so Republicans who would vote against anyone from the group that had ousted McCarthy.

That being the case, there is no potential benefit in removing Johnson. It wouldn't achieve their aim of installing a far-right Speaker. At best, they would get another "Johnson", or continued turmoil that would be punished in the elections next year, or at worst, it could provoke some Republicans to turn their coats and install House Minority Leader Jeffries.

This means that the Freedom caucus have lost this leverage over the Speaker. They can no longer threaten him with being ousted, since we know that they can't afford to do this. Essentially, they lost this battle. They were unable to get the spending cuts that they wanted, and this seals the defeat.

  • 1
    Yeah, the "hard right" is still raging about [all] that, but "Republican Rep. Garrett Graves of Louisiana, a top McCarthy ally, said the idea that “by electing a new speaker, you are going to suddenly have all these new options I think is now being realized this is not factual.”" apnews.com/article/… OTOH on a quick check, Graves was a supporter of McCarthy, so I'm less sure there Freedom Caucus is that convinced. Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 12:39
  • It appears that Johnson is getting more slack from them because he's new on the job. Or as he puts is “I can’t turn an aircraft carrier overnight.” Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 12:43
  • But... to hear from the horse's mouth "Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), who was in the Freedom Caucus meeting with Johnson, acknowledged that he’s in a “tough position” but warned that his honeymoon period is effectively over. [...] “He’s got to find an opportunity to change the dynamics,” Bishop said. “If he can’t, he’s going to follow the same path of not just the immediately previous speaker but a series of them who have not really proved successful.”" politico.com/news/2023/11/14/… Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 12:50
  • And from outside the House "Bannon addressed Johnson during his War Room podcast, saying, “I don’t mean to get on you, but we’re going to get on you because you’re on the clock, brother. Christian Biblical viewpoint or not, you’re on the clock.”" mediaite.com/politics/… Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 12:52
  • That's a positive spin of things, if not necessarily wrong. A more negative spin is the current Speaker is not an improvement on McCarthy (which wasn't a high bar to clear) and that the clock has run down a bit more on US budget considerations, with a rating agency downgrade to boot. Perhaps the Democrats saw the light in not seeking a repeat of the "great victory" they got last time. Commented Nov 19, 2023 at 19:30

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