House Republicans aren’t too thrilled with Speaker Mike Johnson anymore, spending the better part of the evening attacking each other before cannibalizing him for the party’s poor performance on Wednesday when it failed to pass two key votes under the rookie’s leadership.
“He didn’t count votes. I think he will next time,” South Carolina Representative Ralph Norman told CNN.
The first failure was a fragile effort to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Hours later, the caucus failed to pass a GOP-led alternative to the Senate bill that aimed to send $17.6 billion in U.S. aid to Israel. Four House Republicans joined Democrats in voting against Mayorkas’s impeachment, resulting in a stunning 216–214 upset.
“I think he relied, in his defense, on other people to sway some people. He needs to count votes before he comes to the floor. This message of not impeaching Mayorkas sent … a wrong message. I think you need to make sure. And as bad as Pelosi was, she knew her votes before it took place,” continued Norman, referring to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who advanced several major policy wins during her tenure at the top of the lower chamber with similarly slim leads.
Others continued to express disappointment in the GOP, which has failed to advance or pass any worthwhile policies related to its purported platform in years, according to some of its own members.
“I was embarrassed for our conference, for our party because we can do better than we did last night,” said Texas Representative Lance Gooden.
“When you are handed the keys to the, you know, to the kingdom, as it were, then when you have the majority, there is an expectation that you will be able to govern. And, we’ve just struggled with that over and over again,” said Arkansas Representative Steve Womack.
Johnson, meanwhile, laid the blame on unexpected boons to the Democratic vote, including a surprise showing by Texas Representative Al Green, who was ushered in barefoot and via wheelchair following an abdominal surgery.
“We have a razor-thin margin here, and every vote counts,” Johnson said on Wednesday. “Sometimes when you’re counting votes, and people show up when they’re not expected to be in the building, that changes the equation.”
But Johnson has more colossal tasks on the horizon. Soon, Johnson will have to make a decision about whether to bring up a Senate-negotiated aid package for Ukraine, which his party vehemently opposes. And another government shutdown looms large over Congress—the next deadline to fund the government is March 1. It remains to be seen whether the overwhelmingly divided caucus will be capable of negotiating a legitimate spending package or if it will struggle, once again, to push a stopgap spending bill over the finish line.