The House GOP’s election of Rep. Mike Johnson (La.) as Speaker is likely to give an opening to social conservatives, who plan to press him on bringing anti-abortion and anti-transgender policies up for a vote.

But Republicans remain divided on those red-meat issues, and any such floor votes could endanger the swing-district members who voted for Johnson and helped the GOP clinch its majority.

Johnson is one of the most culturally conservative lawmakers to be elected Speaker in years. He honed his views as a former attorney and spokesman at the Alliance Defending Freedom, the powerhouse conservative legal group behind some states’ strict anti-abortion legislation.

And he is unabashed in his faith-driven approach to politics.

“I am a Bible-believing Christian,” Johnson said in a Thursday interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News. “Go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it, that’s my worldview. That’s what I believe in….”

“Conservatives should be breathing a sigh of relief that we have somebody who has been so strong and courageous now with a position of authority, and can do something about actually enacting broadly popular policies that will push back on the Biden administration’s radical abortion and gender ideologies,” said Roger Severino, vice president of domestic policy at the Heritage Foundation….

Republicans have tucked controversial policy riders in almost every appropriation bill, including many that would restrict access to abortion. Steep spending cuts would also slash or eliminate funding to programs dealing with family planning and teen pregnancy, and even the HIV epidemic.

Most recently, Republicans punted on plans to pass an appropriations bill to fund the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration amid disagreements over funding cuts and a provision that would ban mail delivery of the abortion drug mifepristone.

In his pitch to House Republicans ahead of taking the gavel on Wednesday, Johnson suggested the creation of a working group to address member concerns with the bill, ahead of bringing it for a floor vote the week of Nov. 13.

Even if the House manages to pass a partisan appropriations bill, it would set up a showdown with the Democratic-majority Senate that’s moving ahead with bipartisan funding bills that exclude any “poison pill” riders….

Johnson has a long history of supporting anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ policies. He has worked to close abortion clinics in Louisiana and twice defended the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Democrats and abortion rights groups are already seizing on Johnson’s anti-abortion record and appear ready to use it as a cudgel against the GOP conference ahead of the 2024 elections….

“There is a bit of a honeymoon period that he should take full advantage of,” Severino said. “He’s got this opportunity, this window of goodwill that I hope he takes advantage of to get good pro-life policies in place.”

From The Hill