Speaker Mike Johnson to Meet Yet Again with Mitch McConnell

Mike Johnson and Mitch McConnell
@LeaderMcConnell Twitter/X

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is scheduled to huddle again with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Wednesday as conservatives grow increasingly worried about McConnell’s influence over the House agenda.

Johnson is expected to join Republican senators during their weekly Wednesday lunch before a private meeting with McConnell.

Johnson joined the weekly Senate Republican lunch earlier in November, where he referenced McConnell only briefly while McConnell uncharacteristically sat silently throughout the lunch.

The two previously met on October 26.

The Louisianan claimed the gavel without the fundraising machinery, staff, or outside support network that most new Speakers are able to plug into their operation.

Johnson’s first five weeks as Speaker have been dominated by vetting and hiring staff (a typical Congressional office has ten or fewer D.C.-based staff, while the Speaker’s office has upwards of fifty) and traveling to meet donors and raise money.

Unquestionably, the Speaker has faced a more difficult task than previous Speakers upon starting the job.

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But the myriad legislative battles facing Congress have not waited for Johnson’s necessary housekeeping, and many in Congress and elsewhere are concerned that Johnson has had to lean on others who might have the experience, know-how, and willingness to offer a helpful word but harbor far different priorities from Johnson’s conservative base inside the House Republican conference.

“It’s a triarchy,” a senior House GOP conservative aide told Breitbart News. “Jeffries, Schumer, and McConnell are the Speaker.”

Johnson had no preexisting relationship with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), or McConnell. Combined, the triarchy has more decades of experience in Washington, eight, than Johnson has in years, only seven.

The triarchy is understandably unafraid to exert its influence. Indeed, savvy on the process and politics of Capitol Hill will be needed as Congress faces a difficult-to-navigate end-of-year agenda.

Congressional leaders are looking to pass a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Section 702 reauthorization, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and a Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) reauthorization before they expire at the end of the year. Further complicating those matters is the White House request to pass a supplemental funding bill to aid Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan — which will all but certainly require a border security compromise — and the forthcoming government funding deadlines beginning January 19, 2024.

Johnson and McConnell are meeting on the same day as Congressional conservatives — led by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) and the House Freedom Caucus — hold a press conference on the need to fight for conservative priorities as Congress considers several critical issues before the year ends.

McConnell, conservatives’ favorite punching bag, will surely be a topic of discussion. The Kentuckian has been in lockstep with Schumer on top-line numbers for government funding — higher than those sought by House Republicans — and wants to increase defense spending beyond levels agreed upon in May’s debt ceiling agreement. He has also been Congress’s leading voice for more taxpayer-funded aid to Ukraine’s war effort, a notion increasingly unpopular among Republican voters.

Breitbart News reached out to a Johnson spokesperson asking what the Speaker hoped to gain from his meeting with McConnell but did not receive a response.

Most conservatives oppose extending Section 702 absent significant reforms. The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on December 6 on the matter. And House Republicans are seeking to use the NDAA to fight a handful of progressive policies that President Joe Biden’s Pentagon has implemented, a battle most Republicans in the go-along-to-get-along Senate do not wish to fight. Even the FAA reauthorization faces a handful of issues tied to “woke” policies that conservatives claim have diverted from the FAA’s core mission.

The battle over the supplemental funding bill is perhaps the most timely issue facing Congress as Schumer has set a deadline of next week to reach a compromise in acknowledgment that the longer this plays out, the less likely a deal will be made. The battle has exposed fault lines inside the Democrat Party on the issue of support for Israel. Many Democrat officials are now calling for aid to Israel to be conditional on a ceasefire.

“UNITED” — House & Senate Republicans & Democrats Come Together for March for Israel Rally in D.C.

Matt Perdie / Breitbart News

Schumer must weigh his desire to aid Israel with the fear of exposing that disunity within his party.

But with Biden’s numbers plummeting, the president needs a win and may be more willing to negotiate than he has been in the past. Conservatives are insisting that Republicans exert all their leverage to ensure conservative spending and policy priorities make the cut.

If not, once again, Johnson could face the same fate as his predecessor, and another Republican will be sizing up drapes in the Capitol.

Follow Bradley Jaye on Twitter at @BradleyAJaye.


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