Rep. Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, was recently elected as the Speaker of the House after weeks of GOP deliberation. This article provides an in-depth look at his voting history on veteran and military issues, shedding light on his stance and decisions on critical matters.
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Mike Johnson, who assumed the Speaker’s role with unanimous GOP support, has established himself as a conservative legislator with a range of views on veteran and military-related policies. This article examines his voting record, highlighting key decisions that have shaped his political career.
Veterans Benefits and Toxic Exposure
One significant vote that distinguishes Johnson’s record is his opposition to the PACT Act, a groundbreaking piece of legislation that expanded benefits and healthcare for veterans exposed to toxic substances during their military service. The act, considered the most extensive increase in veterans’ benefits in a generation, received bipartisan support, yet Johnson voted against it. Critics point to his concerns over the estimated $278 billion price tag as the primary reason for his opposition.
Support for Veterans and Military Families
While Johnson opposed the PACT Act, he has supported other veteran and military family measures. In a year-end package of legislation, he voted for mandates that required states to recognize valid professional licenses of service members and their spouses from other states. This legislation also ensured that veterans would not lose GI Bill benefits in case of school closures during emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Johnson’s voting record also includes backing significant Republican-sponsored veterans’ legislation. Notable examples include his support for the 2018 Mission Act, which facilitated veterans’ access to healthcare outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs system. He also voted in favor of a 2017 bill aimed at streamlining the process of firing problematic employees at the VA.
Additionally, Johnson co-sponsored the Major Richard Star Act, a top priority for veterans’ groups. This act aims to grant service members who medically retire full access to both military retirement pay and VA disability benefits, a measure widely acclaimed by the veteran community.
Since 2021, Mike Johnson has served on the House Armed Services Committee. He consistently voted for the final passage of annual defense policy bills during his time in Congress. Notably, he supported overriding then-President Donald Trump’s veto of the fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which included a mandate to remove Confederate names from military bases.
Johnson has also endorsed several conservative amendments to the NDAA, including voting to ban gender-affirming healthcare for transgender troops and to repeal the Pentagon policy granting travel reimbursements and leave for abortions.
Government Funding and Ukraine Aid
While Johnson has typically voted against omnibus government funding bills, he supported the House’s Pentagon and Veterans Affairs spending bills, which included GOP policy riders related to abortion services, transgender healthcare, and LGBTQ+ Pride flags at the VA.
Recent political shifts have seen Johnson join fellow Republicans in opposing Ukraine aid. He voted for amendments that aimed to remove Ukraine funding from the NDAA and Pentagon spending bill. Additionally, he voted against a stand-alone bill providing Ukraine with $300 million in aid.
As Speaker of the House, Johnson faces immediate challenges, including government funding and Ukraine aid. Current funding expires in less than a month, and the White House has requested approximately $106 billion in funding for various purposes. Johnson has proposed a stopgap spending measure to extend funding, with the duration depending on the majority support within the House Republican conference. However, both options risk a 1% cut in government spending if full-year appropriations bills are not passed by the required date.
Speaker Mike Johnson’s voting record on veteran and military issues reflects his consistent support for certain key veteran-related legislation and his opposition to others based on fiscal concerns. His role as Speaker places him at the forefront of important decisions regarding government funding and international aid, making his legislative history a critical factor in assessing future policy decisions.