Republicans want a functioning House. So why are they always fighting?

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives currently enjoy a slight majority. You wouldn’t know it, though. For months, many members have acted like whimpering fools at the mercy of the Democratic Party and social media influencers while showing conservatives, like me, a disheartening lack of unity.

It’s undoubtedly a difficult task representing a district in Congress, just as it’s difficult for the rest of Americans to juggle life, work and family. But this is a job that representatives chose to do. In fact, they begged voters for the chance to do it. So, it's also a job we elected them to do, and by gosh, they must do it. And they must do it better.

Some Republicans are trying to oust House Speaker Mike Johnson, whom they elected for that role just six months ago, claiming he’s been more likely to implement Democrats’ policies into laws than represent the Republican Party or the best interests of Americans.

Republicans are trying to replace their own House speaker. Again.

Just after Johnson unveiled a plan to deliver foreign aid to Ukraine, Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., announced he would support efforts to kick Johnson to the curb. That means he joins Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. – hardly the picture of conservatism or sanity – in saying Johnson isn’t the right man for the job.

This is months after Republicans ousted their previous speaker, Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., from the job, after he had been there not even nine months, following McCarthy’s negotiations with President Joe Biden on the debt-ceiling crisis last May.

Imagine a business appointing a new CEO every few months. How would it do?

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Johnson may or may not be the best person for the job as speaker. Certainly, several members thought he was a good choice at one time, or they wouldn’t have handed him the gavel.

Now, some Republicans are changing their mind or, perhaps, speaking out for the first time. It could be that Johnson has done the kind of political about-face that fellow Republicans are accusing him of, and he should be ousted because he is failing to do what he’s there to do.

Either way,  we need a leader for longer than a few months.

Republicans need to pick a leader – and then do their jobs

House Republicans need to pick a capable speaker, stick with the leader, rally their troops, and either curb legislation that doesn’t actually help Americans or pass some that does.

This is one lesson Republicans could learn from Democrats: You don’t see them obsessed with constant squabbles. They circle the wagons when necessary.

US speaker of the House Mike Johnson attends a news conference at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on April 16, 2024.
US speaker of the House Mike Johnson attends a news conference at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on April 16, 2024.

Republicans, meanwhile, are constantly fighting over legislation. On Wednesday, Johnson texted members that he would be posting the text of three bills “that will fund America’s national security interests and allies in Israel, the Indo-Pacific, and Ukraine, including a loan structure for aid, and enhanced strategy and accountability,” a rule regarding an amendment process and a border security bill.

They killed the last border bill. Will this one be any better?

Some Republicans don’t like Johnson’s legislative priorities. On Tuesday, Massie claimed in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that “Speaker Johnson has led the GOP to pass: 1) an omnibus that spends more than (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi’s highest year 2) an expansion of the domestic warrantless surveillance program and this week he’s pushing 3) (Senate Democratic leader Chuck) Schumer’s dream bill which contains $100 billion of foreign aid, mostly for war.”

The same day Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., posted, “What happened to Speaker Johnson? Why is he more worried about banning TikTok than closing the border?”

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Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, is an outspoken proponent of border funding over, well, any other kind of funding. He posted Wednesday, “The Republican Speaker of the House is seeking a rule to pass almost $100 billion in foreign aid – while unquestionably, dangerous criminals, terrorists, & fentanyl pour across our border. The border 'vote' in this package is a watered-down dangerous cover vote. I will oppose.”

Republicans are wasting the slightly majority they have

It's important for members to engage in robust debate over legislation that affects Americans’ lives and wallets. No member should support a bill arbitrarily. At some point, however, the bickering and infighting must end or last temporarily to serve a greater purpose: representing us.

To that end, the House hasn’t been a debacle every minute. Republicans have taken steps to protect American workers through regulatory oversight measures. In January, the House passed a bipartisan tax bill that will undoubtedly help working families and small business owners.

Even so, there’s hardly a moment to acknowledge success when there’s always another news story about another dysfunction.

House Republicans have had a slight majority since 2022, yet what have they accomplished?

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At every turn, they squander their sliver of a majority with infighting, squabbling and impeachment rumors – and tossing speakers about like social media trends. What’s the advantage of having a political majority if Republicans can’t wield it like the weapon it is to slice an overreaching government, secure our borders, limit tax increases and halt Americans’ taxpayer dollars from going virtually everywhere else but back into our vested interests or our pockets?

Do they think we voted for them so they can have a public knock-down-drag-out fight every few months like middle school boys?

Congress is the seat of power for politicians but it’s really the American people’s seat. The rest of America watches House Republicans and constantly wonders: Why do they work like this? America is full of all kinds of people and so it follows that representatives would also vary in ways of doing business. But there’s a time to break down and a time to build up: This is such a time. Republicans shouldn’t waste another day fighting.

Nicole Russell is an opinion columnist for USA TODAY. She lives in Texas with her four kids.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Republicans trying to oust Speaker Johnson are failing the rest of us