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Mike Johnson Warns GOP Can’t Bank on His ‘Hail Mary Passes’

House Speaker Mike Johnson, Louisiana Republican representative, said that he can’t “throw Hail Mary passes on every play” to help Republicans amid an evaporating House majority.

Republicans hold a narrow majority in the lower chamber of Congress, with 218 seats compared to Democrats’ 213. There are four vacancies, as both parties vie for House control next year. Republican Representative Ken Buck of Colorado on March 12 announced his sudden departure from his congressional seat, while Representative Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin last week announced his plan to resign on April 19.

While speaking on The Charlie Kirk Show on Friday, Johnson was asked about being a conservative, saying, “I come from the conservative movement. For 20 years before I was elected to Congress, I was a constitutional law liberty defense litigator on the front lines. We defended religious freedom and sanctity of life in the courts and our fundamental freedoms.”

“I worked for most of the conservative groups in the movement at one point or another,” Johnson said. “Now here’s the thing, with the smallest majority in U.S. history, I cannot throw Hail Mary passes on every play. I’d like to, but it’s not a winning playbook. It’s three yards and a cloud of dust right now. It’s inch by inch up the field.”

Mike Johnson
Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson arrives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on January 29. Johnson said he cannot “throw Hail Mary passes” amid a dwindling GOP House majority.

Johnson continued saying, “We have to reform the way Washington works,” and noted the recently House-passed omnibus spending bill. “When we get a larger majority, I mean for goodness’ sake, give me at least two votes … I think we can have a larger sizable majority … you get that, you get the Senate, we’re going to make big radical changes. I have talked to [former] President [Donald] Trump, and all my colleagues about what that first 100 days looks like. And you will see proof right out of the gate, I mean aggressive changes.”

Johnson noted these changes would include the regulatory state, the “deep state,” the budgeting and spending process, the southern border and all the “big priorities” for the country.

Newsweek has reached out to Johnson’s office via email for additional comment.

Political analyst Craig Agranoff on Friday told Newsweek, “Johnson’s metaphor of not being able to throw ‘Hail Mary’ passes to pass legislation in the face of a dwindling majority is quite telling of the current dynamics within the Republican Party.”

Agranoff continued, “It reflects the complex challenges of leadership in a highly polarized environment, where unity is not just a matter of party loyalty but also of aligning diverse ideological perspectives within the party.”

Johnson has faced fierce criticism from Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene after the omnibus bill passed, as she introduced a motion to vacate the speaker. Greene also accused Johnson of siding with “Chuck Schumer and the Democrats.”

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Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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