San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

New House Speaker averts government shutdown, continues funding into the new year, SDSU Students react

Speaker Mike Johnson faced the same challenge that got McCarthy ousted, marking a difficult start to his unprecedented tenure
Photo courtesy of Tom Brenner of AFP via Getty Images
Photo of Speaker of the House Mike Johnson

Just weeks into his tenure as House speaker, Mike Johnson (R-La.) faced the same issue that led to his predecessor’s ousting.

Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was removed as speaker on Oct. 3 after he turned to Democrats for help passing a bill to extend government funding.

Like McCarthy, Johnson passed a continuing resolution to keep government spending at the current levels. He also used Democratic support to pass the continuing resolution, resulting in a 336-95 vote and averting a government shutdown.

His proposal, however, differentiated from McCarthy’s as he established two deadlines, extending some department’s funding until Jan. 19 and others until Feb. 2.

The potential government shutdown was Johnson’s first major challenge as speaker.

Prior to Johnson’s election, three other House Republicans were nominated for the role. Two of them withdrew before a vote was brought to the House floor. Rep. Jim Jordan from Ohio was the only candidate who made it to a vote, which he lost three times.

Johnson, however, won during the first vote, which occurred the same day that he was nominated, despite being less well-known than others vying for the role.

“I don’t think whether they’re under the radar or not has much of a part to play in whether or not they’re going to be a good speaker of the House,” said Jordan Meyers, president of the political science student organization at San Diego State University. “I think it’s more about who they are as a person and the characteristics that they present within the government.”

Along with replacing the only ousted speaker in United States history, Johnson’s speakership has gained attention due to his short tenure in office. 

Historically, House speakers have spent an average of 18 years as a representative before taking on the role of speaker. Johnson has served for just six years, having worked as a constitutional lawyer for two decades before his election. During his tenure, Johnson has not served as chairman of any committees or in any senior leadership roles.

Politically, Johnson is a strongly conservative member of the House. The American Conservative Union, a nonprofit that rates lawmakers based on their voting records, has given Johnson a 92% rating in aligning with conservative policies, according to Vote Smart.

Johnson has also referred to the Bible as being the primary influence on his views.

Someone asked me today in the media, they said, ‘It’s curious, people are curious, ‘What does Mike Johnson think about any issue under the sun?’” Johnson said in an interview on Fox News. “I said, ‘Well, go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it.’ That’s my worldview.”

For some, Johnson’s focus on religion is a concern.

“My main concern with the speaker of the House, the first thing that stood out to me when I was doing my research, was that the separation of church and state isn’t really there with him,” Meyers said. “That’s within our First Amendment… and I think that can get really dangerous, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican. It’s not just Christian America, it’s Christian America, it’s Muslim America, it’s Jewish America, it’s Atheist America.”

Along with continuing to work on government funding, Johnson will have to address other pressing issues.

“Inflation and taxes are one of the most important issues San Diegans are facing today,” said Mariam Alnajjar, president of Turning Point USA at SDSU. “San Diego is the most expensive place to live. Which makes this issue really important to people here. We hope the Speaker of the House can address that issue with urgency since it is continuing to get worse.”

Regardless of a person’s political views, students emphasized that it is important to follow current events and political news. Involvement in campus political groups, like Turning Point USA, offers means of engagement, such as focusing on the principles of free speech, limited government and free markets.

“Being involved in politics is important as it plays an important role in our everyday lives,”  Alnajjar said. “Political engagement is essential for student activists because the government is the system we’ve set up to represent the people’s interests. If citizens do not get involved, political corruption will thrive and they will lose their freedoms.”

Students also noted that involvement can lead to independence.

“It’s super important to understand the political world so that your voice can be heard,”  Meyers said. “A lot of times these political decisions aren’t always political. Sometimes it’s a matter of human rights. And if you just sit idly by and let people in power make those decisions for you, your life is no longer going to be your own.”

Presidential primary voting will begin in early 2024, just after Johnson will be facing challenges of government funding again. 

Other important issues Republican candidates have been discussing, including foreign aid for Ukraine and Israel, will also be topics Johnson works to resolve.

About the Contributor
Natali Gonzalez, '23-24 Arts & Culture Editor
Natali Gonzalez is an MA student in Rhetoric and Writing Studies. Originally from Ogden, Utah, she got her BA in English Teaching from Weber State University. While there, she worked as a research assistant examining the role of technology in K-12 education. She also worked for Upward Bound as an instructor and tutor. Now, at SDSU, she looks forward to learning about professional writing alongside increasing her knowledge about teaching practices. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys being outdoors, especially exploring the San Diego beaches and going on hikes, and doing yoga and meditation.