Speaker Mike Johnson is Doing an Excellent Job

by Newt Gingrich

I want to make something crystal clear: Speaker Mike Johnson is doing an excellent job.

Lately, far too many people – with no real knowledge about or experience in leading Congress – have had too many criticisms. As a former Speaker, I assure you they have no idea how complicated the job really is.

Speaker Johnson has the most challenging speakership since the Civil War more than 160 years ago.

Let’s be honest. Johnson has a nominal Republican majority for organizational purposes. This means Republicans can control committees, investigations, and the normal flow of legislative business. However, he clearly does not have a majority Republican vote for substantive legislation.

There are currently 218 Republicans, 213 Democrats, and four vacancies in the House. That seeming five-vote majority disappears when the six-to-eight self-serving obstructionists in his party are factored.

Speaker Johnson realized the foreign aid package was an historic test. Failure to provide help to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan would have had enormous implications in the balance of world power. Ukraine would have run out of equipment with which to fight Vladimir Putin’s invasion. Israel would have run out of defensive missiles with which to stop Iranian launches. And Taiwan would have become more vulnerable to a Chinese Communist takeover. All of those are much bigger problems than petty infighting or political points.

To his immense credit, Speaker Johnson spent several months learning from the intelligence community and others – including the chairmen of his key Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Armed Services Committees.

As a former member of the “Gang of Eight,” which has access to everything America knows, I can attest that the world becomes much more complicated and challenging when you learn details about the various real threats to our survival.

As he learned, Speaker Johnson came to realize that the world is at a crossroads and passage of the House foreign aid bill was vital for our own safety.

As Johnson summarized it: “To put it bluntly, I would rather send bullets to Ukraine than American boys. My son is going to begin in the Naval Academy this fall. This is a live-fire exercise for me as it is so many American families. This is not a game, this is not a joke.”

Speaker Johnson also clearly has unending patience listening to his members. I do not think I would have had the patience he displayed in the last few weeks. Hour after hour, day after day, and long into the night, the Speaker tried to understand his members concerns and what they were willing to do. Even those who voted against the aid package admitted Speaker Johnson had earned their respect in the process (except the six-to-eight members who think only of themselves and their political futures).

Every time I interact with the Speaker and his staff, I am impressed with how much they are learning – and how fast they are growing into the second hardest job in Washington. As I outlined in my book, “March to the Majority,” I had 16 years of building a team and building on President Ronald Reagan’s philosophy.

Speaker Johnson and his team had 15 minutes to jump from subcommittee chair to the speakership (which may have been the biggest jump since Henry Clay was elected as Speaker as a Freshman in 1811).

Critically, Speaker Johnson is a decent and deeply religious man. Every account of his final decision indicated that he prayed and tried to listen to what God would have him do. This is deeply important. Johnson’s devotion to God underpins his life and makes him almost impossible to bully or intimidate. His members in the self-important caucus are about to learn this lesson.

In the end, Speaker Johnson found a formula for breaking the decision into four different votes – and then won all four. He has now sent the four-in-one package to the Senate, where senators will have to pass it unamended. President Biden has already agreed to sign it.

While Republicans were split, the coalition that passed the bills clearly represented the will of the American people. On final passage each of the bills received more than 310 yea votes (and more than 350 in some case). That was an impressive coalition – and it was a tribute to Speaker Johnson’s patience, persistence, and skill to get the job done.

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul captured my feelings when he said: “To me, it is a true profile in courage to put the interests of the nation above his own — himself and his career. It was a gutsy call, but he knew it was the right thing. My stock in him went way up.”

Speaker Johnson’s critics should think about their colleague’s assessment.

If they decide to continue attacking him, they will shrink and be seen as destructive and harmful. His stock will continue to rise.

As a former Speaker, I am deeply impressed.

For more commentary from Newt Gingrich, visit Gingrich360.com. Also, subscribe to the Newt’s World podcast.

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