Speaker Johnson’s Background on Defense and Veterans Care

October 26, 2023

Many in Washington and across the country are learning about House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.). Here’s what we know about his work on defense issues, according to Military.com and other media reports.

  • Johnson is a member of the Armed Services Committee and the Readiness and Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittees. Speakers do not typically serve on committees, so he may step down.
  • Johnson’s district includes Barksdale Air Force Base, Fort Johnson and the Louisiana National Guard’s Camp Minden Training Site. That’s a heavier defense presence than in recent speakers’ districts.
  • He has been an advocate for larger defense budgets.
  • Johnson told his Republican colleagues shortly before the speaker vote that he was committed to passing a House-Senate compromise defense authorization bill.
  • Johnson has received an “F” from the advocacy group Republicans for Ukraine, which advocates for aid to Ukraine. Johnson has voted against additional Ukraine aid funding in recent months. This issue will be an early test of his speakership as the House considers the administration’s $106 billion funding request for Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan and border security.
  • Johnson voted against the PACT Act last year. The measure expanded benefits for service members exposed to toxic substances.
  • He also voted last year against a package of military families provisions, including a mandate that states recognize service members’ and spouses’ professional licenses from other states.
  • Johnson has supported Republican-backed veterans bills, including the 2018 Mission Act allowing veterans to see health care professionals outside the Veterans Affairs system.

Getty Images photo by Justin Sullivan

October 26, 2023

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