House Freedom Caucus chair: Speakership has changed Mike Johnson

House Freedom Caucus chair: Speakership has changed Mike Johnson

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiaina)

House Freedom Caucus chair: Speakership has changed Mike Johnson

Rep. Bob Good doesn't doubt Mike Johnson's Christian faith in the least but admits being greatly disappointed in Johnson's short tenure as House Speaker. Johnson, he argues, is allowing advice from the "wrong people" to abandon his previously held conservative positions.

The bloom had already vanished for Mike Johnson in his short term as House Speaker. The Louisiana Republican faced a motion to vacate from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene with support from Rep. Thomas Massie before Johnson ever pushed through support for Ukraine funding, something opposed by most House GOP conservatives.

But to abandon his previous support for serious border restrictions just leads to the growing gap between Johnson and the conservative base of which he was once part, Rep. Bob Good (R-Virginia), the House Freedom Caucus chair, said on American Family Radio Monday.

The House passed $95 billion in foreign aid over the weekend with $61 billion earmarked for Ukraine's continuing war against Russia. The bill is expected to gain easy approval in the Democrat-led Senate since it isn't tied to changes at the open southern border. But Congressman Good said a different type of "change" disturbs him.

"Speaker Johnson had been on the Judiciary Committee for seven years, and [he] was right alongside Andy Biggs, Chip Roy, and Matt Gaetz, fighting to reform FISA, to have the constitutional protections, the warrant provision for surveillance on U. S. citizens, and so forth – until he became Speaker," Good told show host Jenna Ellis.

Good, Rep. Bob (R-Virginia) Good

"And then he gets briefed by the intelligence committee," the GOP lawmaker continues, "and they tell him that Americans are going to die, and it's going to be blood on his hands as a speaker if he requires a warrant. Well, we don't suspend our constitutional liberties in the name of safety.

"He changed – and the same thing happened with Ukraine. He came into this as speaker where he said he wasn't willing to entertain money for Ukraine without using as leverage to secure our border. But he changed as he listened to the defense folks and the donor class and the K street lobbyists and where the money flows into Republican campaigns," Good said.

Indeed, it was just last December when Johnson, after supporting $110 billion in spending, came under fire for what conservatives called minimal gains. His response was that border policy would be the "hill to die" on in the pending discussions on Ukraine funding.

"He changed," Good reiterated, "and he wanted Ukraine money as much as the Democrats did and as much as our military industrial complex did. He didn't want to risk getting that by attaching border security to it because he knew the Senate didn't want the border security piece of it."

Others have noticed change in Johnson. The Heritage Foundation scores his career voting record at 90% for the causes favored by the conservative nonprofit. But that score falls to 53% for this congressional term.

Johnson and The Heritage Foundation have differed on last three votes: the foreign aid bills, FISA and the second FY24 six-bill minibus.

The unfortunate path

Townhall.com, the news outlet for Salem Media, compares the Johnson tenure to date to previous House speakers John Boehner, Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy.

"All these former House speakers were once labeled 'conservatives,' but after assuming the top position in Congress, their policies changed, resulting in grassroots anger. Unfortunately, none of these House Speakers cared about hard-working Americans, both Republicans and Democrats. Instead, they were far more concerned about doing the bidding of the 'Deep State,'" wrote Jeff Crouere in an op-ed.

Good compared Johnson's first spending battle for Israel aid last November to the bill just passed and sees disturbing differences.

"The first thing he did that was so strong was to separate Israel funding. That was a momentous event because we never pay for supplemental – we always borrow," he explained. "[Johnson] was saying, 'No, we're going to pay for it, and that's what we're going to do going forward.' But that was his high watermark, and I began to see the speakership change him," Good said.

Good says Johnson has made bad choices in staff hires and in the people he considers trusted voices, and that's led to the rift between the Speaker and the conservative base.

"He began to blame conservatives who were fighting him. He had dishonestly criticized us and blamed us for his failures, saying we're against everything and won't let him do anything. That's not true. He just hasn't liked the options or alternatives we've given him. He's essentially made political enemies of Freedom Caucus conservatives," said the Virginia Republican.

When 'turn the other cheek' doesn't apply

Good noted Johnson's Christian worldview but says Johnson hasn't applied that worldview to his governance in choosing opinions that he values.

"Mike is a genuine believer in his heart. I think he loves the Lord. I think he's a strong Christian, has a strong faith and a strong Christian worldview, but he's listening to the wrong people who don't share those views – and he's been changed by those in terms of at least how he's approaching policy," Good said.

Good argues that Johnson needs to fight harder for the conservative positions he once clearly upheld.

"How we live our lives on a personal level and the biblical admonitions and the things that apply to me as a born-again believer don't apply necessarily to government policy," said Good. "That wasn't intended to be our government policy when someone attacks us, that we're going to turn the other cheek, just because as a believer that's how I'm supposed to treat individuals. It's not the same thing as government policy.

"I have seen the speakership change Mike Johnson. Whether it's changed him in his heart or is just changing his actions, I don't know, but it's been a major disappointment," Good said.