The House of Representatives has been in turmoil for months. This Congress has had challenges that haven’t faced many Congresses that have come before it, and it doesn’t appear that those challenges are letting up anytime soon.

Starting with the kerfuffle over the Speaker of the House back in early 2023, it doesn’t appear that things are going any better for the second Speaker of the current Congress, Mike Johnson.

The Newest Speaker

Johnson was voted in as Speaker of the House back in October of 2023. This occurred after a contentious Republican conference voted out their former speaker of the house, Kevin McCarthy, after he made a deal with Democrats to fund the government through a stopgap funding measure.

Source: Wikimedia/Office of Speaker Mike Johnson

Republicans have not been happy with any of their leadership, and it hasn’t been easy for the conference to find a member that was popular enough to get the majority votes necessary to become Speaker. Kevin McCarthy was voted in after 15 rounds of voting in 2023, and the journey to bringing Mike Johnson to the Speakership was nearly as contentious.

Controversies for Johnson

Since being voted in as Speaker, Johnson has faced controversies from the general public as well as rumors of general discontent among his conference. He’s a member of the Freedom Caucus, which is the far-right, pro-Trump faction of the Republican conference, and was allegedly the architect of the plan to halt the certification of the 2020 election for Joe Biden.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

These qualifications made him a hard pill to swallow for more moderate Republicans, who saw his appointment as a further lean to far-right politics that have not performed well for them in Congress, or on the ballot. Despite that, he won the votes to become Speaker, and has been doing his best at performing the job as required.

Gathering Republican Votes

One of the many hurdles that Johnson has had to face as Speaker of the House is gathering enough votes – from Republicans, as he refuses to reach across the aisle and work with Democrats – to get the basic business of Congress done. This includes things like funding the government and passing through basic spending bills that are, usually, routine for the House of Representatives.

Source: Wikimedia/Government Official Congressman Mike Johnson

Johnson, despite doing his best to work with both the more moderate and more extreme members of his conference, has been struggling. Many are completely uninterested in doing the work of government, as is evident by some more extreme Freedom Caucus members boldly stating that they want the government to shut down in order to “make a point.”

The First Failed Vote

The most recent embarrassment for Johnson and his speakership stems from the ongoing impeachment investigation into Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The Republican-led house launched the impeachment investigation against Mayorkas for his immigration policies, which they claimed made the already dire situation at the border that much worse.

Source: Wikimedia/DHSgov

Johnson officially held a vote for the impeachment of Mayorkas at the pressure of his conference, and unfortunately, lost the vote by a mere two votes. The final vote on the impeachment was 216-214, with the motion failing due to unanimous votes from the Democrats and 4 swing votes from Republicans.

A Second Vote for Israel

This would have been embarrassing enough for Johnson on its own – the Republicans have been making a big deal about this investigation into Mayorkas since it was announced in early January – but the House of Representatives was not done there.

Source: Wikimedia/U.S. Secretary of Defense

The House then held a subsequent vote on a standalone bill that would have provided more than $17 billion to Israel, to assist in the Hamas war that is occuring in the Middle East. Johnson proposed this bill after the House soundly rejected a more comprehensive funding and border bill that the Senate approved late in January.

The Vote for Israel Failed, As Well

While most people – including members of Congress – can agree that providing funding for Israel, who is an important United States military ally, is essential, the bill fell far short of what many see as necessary for aid to a foreign ally.

Source: Wikimedia/Office of Representative Mike Johnson

The bill didn’t have any money earmarked for humanitarian aid, which progressives stated is sorely lacking in the area as the war stretches on, nor did it have any limitations on what Israel was allowed to do with the money. The vote was pushed through in a measure that required two-thirds approval of the House, and failed in a vote of 250-180.

Not a Good Look

These two losses are not a good look for Speaker Johnson, who has been struggling to keep his conference together and provide a strong face for both the media and their constituents. Rumors of Republican infighting have only gotten stronger in the months since Johnson was elected, and these failed votes will likely make it worse.

Source: Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore

Johnson seemed to recognize how these failed votes would look to the public. Allegedly, after the House called their business for the evening, Johnson swiftly left the capitol and refused to speak to any reporters about the business that had just been conducted.

Reactions from the Public

Other conservatives have made their opinions on the matter known. Trump ally Steve Bannon released a statement regarding the matter, stating that the entire situation is deeply embarrassing for Johnson.

Source: Twitter/X/JakeSherman

Likewise, Jake Sherman of Punchbowl news posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, stating that this was a particularly humiliating day for the Republicans. He went further to theorize that the Republicans knew that the vote on Israel funding would fail, and that they chose to go ahead with it anyway, though he didn’t venture reasons as to why.

A Bleak Picture for Republicans

The chaos that is the Republican conference in the House of Representatives paints an important picture about how divided this country is, even among members of its own party. Johnson’s inability to wrangle his conference and push through bills that are good for the country is a stunning indictment on the Republican’s ability to lead.

Source: Wikimedia/Office of Speaker Mike Johnson

Whether Johnson will be able to bring his conference together to make the work of government happen ahead of the 2024 election remains to be seen. Unfortunately for him, the failed votes in the House do not paint a hopeful picture, and the Republicans may end up facing their comeuppance at the ballot box this November.