GOP rebels’ faith in Speaker Johnson on spending fight could avert government shutdown

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EXCLUSIVE: Conservatives’ trust in new Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., would likely give him enough leeway to avert a government shutdown with a short-term spending bill if one is needed to fund the government past Nov. 17.

Multiple conservatives who opposed ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s 45-day ‘clean’ continuing resolution (CR), which is currently funding the government at fiscal year 2023 levels, have said they would support Johnson in bringing a CR to the floor with certain preconditions. Johnson has come to his role having earned the ‘trust’ that others in leadership lacked with the hardline right, the members told Fox News Digital.

Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., for instance, said ‘it would be hard to get anything as far as a CR’ if anyone else were in Johnson’s place ‘because the conservatives are used to getting basically rolled in all of this.’

‘He just has credibility. We know he means what he says and says what he means,’ Norman told Fox News Digital of the new speaker. ‘He just has got the trust level to be able to do that.’

Johnson was elected unanimously by all present House Republicans earlier this week. 

He pledged to continue the House GOP’s work to pass 12 individual spending bills. But speaking with Sean Hannity on Thursday night, Johnson suggested he’d be open to a CR if needed to avoid a government shutdown next month, but it would have to meet certain conditions.

McCarthy had tried to pass a CR that slashed current government spending levels and would have included portions of House Republicans’ border security bill. But 21 GOP lawmakers voted against that bill in late September, killing it. 

One of those lawmakers was Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., who said he would at least be open to hearing Johnson out.

‘If Speaker Johnson comes to me and explains to me the situation, and I feel comfortable in what he’s saying, then I would never say never on this go-round just because it’s a different situation,’ Burchett said, adding that his ultimate decision would be ‘content-driven.’

Burchett said any CR he’d sign onto needed to show ‘true savings’ and ‘border security.’ He said, ‘The one thing we’re required to do is pass a budget and 12 appropriations bills. And if we can, if you can show me that we’re going to move towards that, then I’m all for it.’

But he suggested that he’d only support it once, warning: ‘I might give him one bite at that apple but there won’t be two shots at that, I can tell you that.’

Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Mo., another of the 21, would not say if he would support a CR with conservative policy points but called on Congress to continue its appropriations work — something Johnson has vowed to do.

‘The House needs to pass the remaining appropriations bills with conservative wins, and we need to have worked with the Senate to conference the bills we’ve already passed.’ Burlison said when asked what a CR would need to have to get his support.

Meanwhile, Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., who voted for the conservative CR but against McCarthy’s 45-day measure, predicted that many of his colleagues on the right would extend goodwill to Johnson.

After noting that he could not speak for all GOP members, Good told Fox News Digital that a short-term spending bill could be acceptable. ‘I think most if not all of our conference will be open to some type of short-term spending bill, if necessary, to complement the efforts to pass the bills that would have some kind of win or wins for the American people,’ Good said.

He said of Johnson: ‘He starts out with bringing a new level of trust that has been lacking in our leadership.’

‘He is a demonstrated conservative who will be a partner in advancing the conservative agenda that almost all Republicans run on,’ Good said.

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