Speaker Vote Suggests Republicans Are Finally Ready to Act Like Democrats

Sam Karnick Heartland Institute
Published November 1, 2023
speaker mike johnson capitol

Bipartisanship is the central pillar of ever-expanding government. Mike Johnson doesn’t play that game.

The House Republicans’ unanimous support for Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) in last week’s speaker vote may indicate that GOP lawmakers are finally ready to act like Democrats.

For taxpayers, that would be the best news in many, many years. Bringing Democrats’ level of enthusiasm, tenacity, and unparalleled political acumen to a fight for a smaller national government and a respect for individual rights might just save the nation — if anything can.

Johnson is a solid conservative and a constitutional scholar with lifetime ratings of 92% from the American Conservative Union and 90% from Heritage Action. In 2020, Johnson argued that states’ unconstitutional changes in voting procedures in a supposed response to COVID-19 invalidated their elector slates. He has consistently opposed federal government support of abortion and sex and gender radicalism.

Johnson voted against the bipartisan short-term spending bill that passed with near-unanimous Democrat support on September 30 (just one Democrat voted no) in an allegedly Republican-controlled chamber. He voted against sending $40 billion to Ukraine for warfighting last year and opposed another $300 million this year. Johnson has expressed agreement with the GOP budget hard-liners’ call for individual appropriations bills, while proposing another short-term spending measure to fill in the gap until those bills can be passed.

Johnson’s proposed approach would set up a stark conflict with the Democrat-majority Senate and spending fanatic Joe Biden. As that indicates, Johnson does not subscribe to the bipartisanship myth that has served as the basis for big-government uniparty rule for decades.

“In Biden’s first two years, Johnson voted against a slew of bipartisan bills — including to establish a Jan. 6 independent commission, the infrastructure law, reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a modest new gun law and the CHIPS and Science Act,” NBC News reported. In addition, “He voted against bipartisan legislation to codify same-sex marriage, which Biden signed into law in 2022” and “has a spotless history of voting against legal abortion,” NBC News observed.

“Johnson isn’t known for bipartisanship,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “He was ranked 429th out of 435 lawmakers in the 2021 bipartisan index kept by the Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, situated among members of the staunchly conservative House Freedom Caucus.”

Bipartisanship is the central pillar of ever-expanding government. The uniparty scam starts with Democrats demanding ambitious schemes of government spending and regulation, which the chattering classes characterize as laudable idealism and wise “investments.” Republicans resist based on the cost to taxpayers, which the media bigmouths invariably castigate as small-minded and miserly.

If the Democrats have a legislative majority and the presidency, they then just do what they want. The extravagant Affordable Care Act and Inflation Reduction Act were passed with all Republicans voting no (and with all Democrats voting yes in the latter case), then signed by Democrat presidents. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 fiscal stimulus boondoggle passed with unanimous support from Senate Democrats and only one House Democrat voting against it.

Republicans can stick together at times, as in the case of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but they usually do so only when they cannot win, as happened with the American Rescue Plan. Democrats consult with Republicans only when they need votes from GOP turncoats, as when Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) single-handedly rescued Obamacare from partial repeal.

This year’s budget bills show how the game can change.