The brand new chief of the Home of Representatives has a historical past of proposing to reform the civil service and fascinating in ‘shutdown politics’, though he seems reluctant to proceed his opposition to preserving the federal government open if present funding ranges expires subsequent month.
After three weeks of chaos for the reason that resignation of Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, Republicans within the Home of Representatives on Wednesday elected Rep. Mike Johnson of California as speaker. Johnson has led the 118th Congress however was comparatively unknown earlier than turning into the fourth Republican nominee for speaker this month. He has maybe achieved his biggest fame by main congressional efforts to decertify a number of states’ 2020 election ends in the Supreme Courtroom.
Whereas on the lookout for his new job, Johnson drew up a plan to maintain the federal government open past the present deadline. He stated he would assist a unbroken decision till January 15 or April 15 because the Home of Representatives continues to vote on appropriations measures for fiscal 12 months 2024. These payments will solely win approval alongside social gathering traces as a result of they embrace spending caps nicely under what Republicans within the Home of Representatives agreed after negotiations with President Biden as a part of the deal to lift the debt ceiling. Johnson voted for that deal, however advised his colleagues to proceed passing smaller spending payments so they might then start negotiations with the Senate and White Home. Shortly after successful the speakership, Johnson started contemplating Republicans’ 2024 Power Division price range invoice.
Only a few weeks in the past, Johnson took a unique strategy and voted towards the emergency legislation that now retains businesses afloat till November 17.
The congressman stated final month that nobody is “demanding a shutdown,” however he urged “altering the weaponization of federal businesses designed to guard and serve the American individuals and as a substitute getting used towards them.”
Since becoming a member of Congress in 2017, Johnson has made a number of proposals that will dramatically shake up the foundations for the federal workforce. Within the Home of Representatives, Johnson stated in February that he would make it a high precedence to finish the intensive teleworking businesses deployed throughout the pandemic.
“It isn’t the time to require telecommuting federal staff to return to work to repair widespread, terribly poor customer support,” Johnson stated. “Now we have federal staff in all these businesses, in all these businesses, who actually have not come to work. Nicely, we will put an finish to that.”
He beforehand led the Republican Examine Committee, a big group of conservative lawmakers that makes coverage suggestions. In that position, he pushed for a spread of modifications inside the civil service, together with the introduction of the Trendy Employment Reform, Enchancment and Transformation (MERIT) Act. This measure would considerably shorten the time it takes to terminate a federal worker for poor efficiency or misconduct, giving staff simply ten days to attraction removing selections to the Benefit Techniques Safety Board. The invoice would additionally exempt adversarial personnel actions and relevant reductions from negotiated grievance procedures, cut back the mounted annuity of a federal worker convicted of against the law and fired, and provides businesses the authority to revoke bonuses or different financial awards deemed illegal . “wrongly paid” to staff. An try was additionally made to increase the probationary interval for brand new staff from one to 2 years.
Johnson’s RSC report additionally included a proposal to remove the almost computerized incremental raises that almost all federal employees obtain.
Additionally within the position of RSC chairman, Johnson despatched a letter in 2020 calling for reforms throughout the COVID-19 disaster, together with eliminating the conventional provisions for hiring civil servants inside the authorities throughout the pandemic. He additionally known as for growing wages for federal employees “with essential abilities” and expanded use of money bonuses to reward high performers.
“The problem of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced out one of the best in lots of America’s federal workforce,” Johnson wrote. “These patriotic public servants, together with numerous personal sector specialists and beneficiant volunteers, have stepped up to answer a rare international disaster. But the necessity for higher-skilled and specialised employees to affix the federal ranks has turn into obvious.”
Johnson made one other large splash in federal pandemic coverage for the workforce as he spearheaded efforts to reverse President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for government department staff and contractors. The congressman led a submitting in federal court docket in assist of a lawsuit that was in the end profitable in overturning Biden’s declare.
“We urge the court docket to uphold the First Modification rights of federal authorities contractors on this case,” Johnson stated. “To the healthcare employees, first responders, service members, contractors and each hardworking American affected by President Biden’s unconstitutional insurance policies: We won’t cease combating for you.”
After a number of appeals from either side, the Biden administration is now ready for a call from the Supreme Courtroom on whether or not the case needs to be reviewed.
Within the quick time period — with Congress simply three weeks away from a shutdown — Johnson is pursuing what he known as an “formidable plan” to finish the funding course of. He hopes to go all twelve annual appropriations payments earlier than the November 17 deadline, though he acknowledged that Congress will want extra time and can due to this fact assist a brand new reduction invoice. He’ll push for a short-term measure that will hold businesses funded at present ranges till a minimum of mid-January to “be certain that the Senate can’t saddle us with a Christmas omnibus.” The April choice, which some conservative lawmakers have beforehand advocated, would put authorities businesses on the point of seizure below a provision within the debt restrict legislation.
Within the Senate, lawmakers this week resumed consideration of the primary bundle of appropriations payments, which has broad bipartisan assist and is according to spending limits within the Fiscal Duty Act. Johnson has not laid out a plan for the White Home’s proposed $106 billion in extra funding for help to Ukraine, Israel, Gaza and the Indo-Pacific, nor for a rise in hiring for immigration and border safety providers.