In what was a marathon effort to elect a new Speaker, House Republicans unanimously voted for Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana, an affable member of limited tenure to be Speaker.

The Republican majority had enough votes for Johnson to comprise a majority of the full House.

Johnson, who has only served three terms, now becomes the least experienced Speaker in over a century. Additionally, despite his affability, Johnson is known for his leadership on attempting to overturn the 2020 election, commitment to end abortion, and other positions on the far right of the American political spectrum.

His first two tasks will be to navigate funding to keep the national government open and operating when the last CR (Continuing Resolution) expires this month and pass a funding package for aid to Israel in the Israel-Hamas War and to Ukraine in its struggle to combat the invasion of Russia.

In the first case, it is anticipated that Johnson will support another CR funding the government into early 2024. This is good for the inbound travel industry as there will be no short-term cuts to programs or staffing on the inbound industry relies, such as national parks, TSA, and visa application interviewers and processors.

Representative Mike Johnson


The real battle for funding is likely to take place in 2024 when the House attempts to make significant cuts in most appropriations—except Defense—for federal departments and agencies. Although the Senate is likely to resist severe cuts, it is not clear what compromises might be reached. IITA must be diligent to work with other industry organizations to protect healthy funding of those agencies that enable inbound tourism to thrive and go.

On the second issue, Johnson has already proposed smaller funding for Israel, none for Ukraine, and a “poison pill” element to cut funding to the Internal Revenue Service by the amount awarded to Israel. The IRS cut will reduce investigations and tax collections from highest income taxpayers who underpay, thereby reducing U.S. tax revenue.

The Johnson proposal is a fraction of the proposal requested by President Joe Biden. Biden proposed $106 billion in his combined aid bill. Johnson is offering $14.3 billion for his Israel only proposal. The Johnson bill is already facing stiff opposition in the U.S. Senate from no less than Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who wants Ukraine funding included, and the Democratic Senate majority.

All of this portends a contentious year in national policy with a White House in re-election mode and a divided Congress. Finding consensus may be a real challenge, particularly with relatively inexperienced hands running the House.

Stay tuned for an interesting year!

By Steve Richer, DC Correspondent