Republican senators are waving off new Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) from moving any national abortion legislation before the 2024 election, worried it could hurt their chances of winning back the Senate majority.
Johnson, a conservative Christian guided by the Bible, remains an enigma to GOP senators despite meeting them last week. Media coverage has focused on his past anti-abortion advocacy as a lawyer and congressman.
He called abortion a “holocaust” in a 2005 op-ed. In Congress, he co-sponsored bills for a national 6-week abortion ban and criminal penalties for doctors performing abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected.
A key question is whether Johnson will bring bills restricting abortions nationwide to a House vote or add abortion riders to must-pass spending bills.
Johnson has suggested his speakership was ordained by God and that he takes his political views from the Bible, not pollsters.
But Republican senators are warning it would be a major political miscalculation to elevate the abortion issue nationally before 2024, saying he should leave it to the states.
“It would be viewed as not politically helpful,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), citing discussions within the Senate GOP conference.
One anonymous Republican senator said Johnson would commit “political malpractice” if he further highlights abortion ahead of 2024 House and Senate elections.
Instead, senators want Johnson focused on uniting issues like Israel aid and border security, avoiding a divisive national abortion debate.