House Speaker Mike Johnson secured the backing of his caucus in late October after the turbulent removal of then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who faced discontent from the party’s conservative faction over unfulfilled commitments. However, Johnson (R-La.) now faces potential jeopardy in retaining his position.
Johnson intended to include a brief extension of a significant federal government surveillance tool in the essential annual defense spending bill. However, as reported by the Washington Examiner on Friday, “members of the House Freedom Caucus declared their opposition” to this proposal.
“After changing his stance and reversing course multiple times in the past week on how he plans to ensure section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act does not expire at the end of the year, Johnson settled on including a clean short-term extension of the tool until April 19, 2024, in the National Defense Authorization Act, something he said he would not do just days prior,” the report continued.
But most Republicans were OUTRAGED to hear the news…
“Any reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) must be considered only with significant reforms and as a standalone measure,” Freedom Caucus members said in a statement. “Under no circumstances should an extension be attached to ‘must pass’ legislation such as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
“The Members of the House Freedom Caucus are prepared to use all available leverage to change the status quo,” the statement went on. “We will not simply vote ‘no’ on bad legislation and go home for Christmas.”
Despite varying opinions within the caucus, the announcement solidifies a clear policy stance opposing the inclusion of a brief extension of the surveillance tool in the NDAA. This position has resulted in public disapproval of the annual defense bill from members on both sides of the political spectrum and within the ideological spectrum of both parties, as highlighted by the Examiner.
“The FISA extension is not great,” one centrist Republican, Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.) said. “I don’t think it should be in the NDAA.”
According to a senior GOP aide, the potential strategy entails House leadership bringing the NDAA to a vote under suspension of the rule, requiring a two-thirds majority for passage. Despite significant resistance, there is no guarantee of securing the needed votes. Nevertheless, the aide conveyed optimism, stating that party leaders are confident in their ability to gather the required support, as reported by the Examiner.
“That is sure to anger some hard-line conservatives such as Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), who opposes the NDAA and slammed Johnson and House Republican leadership for bringing the most recent continuing resolution up under suspension of the rules to avoid a possible rule failing on the floor,” the outlet said.
When elected Speaker in late October, Johnson encountered a pressing deadline for another essential measure, the extension of federal government funding. He emphasized the urgency of swiftly addressing this bill, indicating it was a top priority on his agenda, as reported by a news outlet.
“Our first priority is to get the government funded,” Johnson told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.” “Our team is ready and working like a well-oiled machine.”
Newsmax further reported that Johnson mentioned the passage of an energy and water appropriations measure last week, merely a day after assuming the position of Speaker, “and we’re moving as quickly as possible and trying to beat the deadline” of Nov. 17 when the current funding bill runs out.
He further explained “we’re unable to finish [as] it is detailed work, and it takes some time, we’ll look at another stopgap measure.”
He added, “If we run out of time on the calendar, we may need a little bit more to complete it.”