EXCLUSIVE: House Republican hardliners who criticized ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s government funding compromise with President Biden are now concerned that Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., will usher in “more of the same” leadership despite promising a fresh start.
“I think this contributes to the fiscal harm to our country and is consistent with what has happened for the past year,” House Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good, R-Va., told Fox News Digital of Johnson’s recent government funding deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Good, one of eight House Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy in early October last year, pointed out that he opposed every spending compromise brought under both GOP speakers so far.
“None of these bills or spending initiatives are making any significant policy changes to reverse the harm being done by the Pelosi-Schumer-Biden policies that are in place. So this is more of the same,” he said.
Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., another of the eight, agreed it appeared the House GOP was on a similar path.
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GOP hardliners like Rep. Chip Roy and Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good are panning Speaker Johnson’s government funding deal. (Getty Images)
“We just have to decide who we are as a party. I would hope at some point we would resume our role as fiscal conservatives,” he said.
The showdown over policy attachments to Congress’ coming spending bills is going to be a flashpoint in any government shutdown standoffs going on this month, with the first funding deadline coming on Jan. 19.
Schumer suggested he would not entertain any conservative policy riders in the final deal, while Johnson touted the deal as the pathway to scoring those wins.
But the Republicans who spoke with Fox News Digital on Monday said getting those policies attached would be a critical test of Johnson’s mettle as a conservative leader.
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“Well, it looks pretty similar. I mean, they’re talking about it in similar ways,” Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, said of the deal. “We’ve gone through a lot as Republicans, in our very narrow majority this year, but we didn’t go through this to get rolled. And so the numbers aren’t great. So the policies have to be there.”
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, was pessimistic about seeing any policy riders that would offset what he saw as capitulation by House Republicans. He went further, arguing the Johnson-Schumer deal put the GOP in a worse position than McCarthy did.
“It’s just a continuation of the same problems that we were frustrated with last year. But I mean, I’ve got to be honest. In many ways, it’s worse,” Roy said.
Rep. Warren Davidson warned that his measure of success relies on what conservative policy riders House GOP negotiators can get. (Getty Images)
He targeted Johnson for keeping in a $69 billion side agreement between McCarthy and Biden which would raise the agreed-upon spending topline to about $1.65 trillion. Johnson negotiated $16 billion in extra cuts this year to offset some of that.
The statutory topline previously set by McCarthy and Biden during negotiations on raising the debt limit, $1.59 trillion, would stay in place.
“I think Speaker McCarthy was trying to…figure out how we could land the plane. Side deals were cut, which should not have been cut, and we told him that, and we were working on trying to constrain that spending. Unfortunately, Mike just basically cut a deal that continued all of his quote, ‘side deals,’” Roy said.
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He accused Johnson of having “capitulated to the uniparty,” adding, “We are now going to be left holding the bag.”
“And I’m going to be told and sold that we’re gonna get all these great…policy changes,” Roy said. “I will amend my sentence if we end up getting some massive policy wins attached to the spending, but I do not believe that we can possibly get enough policy wins on the riders to offset the damage of spending that much more money.”
Rep. Tim Burchett, who voted to oust ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, worries House Republicans have not had meaningful change since then. (Anna Rose Layden/Getty Images)
Johnson is not afforded much wiggle room in his situation, presiding over a slim House GOP majority and negotiating with Democrats in both the Senate and White House. It will be a tough environment to get the kind of policies passed that the right flank of his conference would consider a win.
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But even his allies among the right flank, like Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., are criticizing the deal and demanding significant policy overhauls – specifically on the border.
“This proposal is [dead on arrival]- it’s a ‘teardrop in the ocean’ of what we should be considering for overall spending,” Norman said.
“Regarding Speaker Johnson, I feel we are in much better shape because of one key factor TRUST,” he told Fox News Digital in a text. “He will tell us what’s going on ‘behind closed doors’ HOWEVER Mike has to stand strong even if it means a shutdown of government!!”
Fox News Digital has reached out to Johnson’s office for comment.