Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Mike Johnson Could Be the Democrats' Secret Weapon

The fun part is over. Now Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has to govern. And watch the politics at the same time. It won't be easy. He has to prepare a dozen bills to fund the government. He can try to stall a bit (see below) but sooner or later he needs to decide how much each department gets. And his decision has to be able to get 218 votes in the House and 50 or 51 in the Senate. That's the hard part.

Johnson is starting out by writing bills that the Freedom Caucus will vote for. They won't pass the Senate, but they give the Democrats plenty of fodder for campaign ads. For example, the constituents of CA-27 in Southern California, which is D+4 and which Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA) won by 6.4% in 2022, are being bombarded with flyers saying that Garcia supports the GOP's extremist funding cuts that will hurt people in the district.

Johnson knows that any bill that makes the Freedom Caucus members smile has no chance at getting past the Senate, but he has to make the effort to show the FCers that he is with them and is trying. But those "show bills," which have no actual chance, put the Biden 18 and other vulnerable Republicans in a real bind. If they vote "nay," they may draw primary challenges from the right, but if they vote "aye," Democrats will kill them over it. They would greatly prefer that Johnson skip the pointless bills that could never pass and start with serious bills. But that would anger members of the FC, so he can't do that either.

Here are six contentious issues Johnson has to deal with in the upcoming bills.

In short, Johnson has his hands full now. Keeping the FCers on board while not having the Biden 18 jump ship will test his legislative powers to the max. Legislative powers that, by the way, it's not clear he actually has, as yet. (V)

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