Three Key Mike Johnson Staff Members Resign

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Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) will reportedly lose a high-powered trio of top policy staffers barely six months into his speakership.

The influential advisers — Brittan Specht, Jason Yaworske, and Preston Hill — are leaving Johnson’s office at the end of May, Punchbowl News reported. Each of the three previously worked for then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

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Johnson ascended to the top of House leadership without the existing policy, communication, and fundraising strategy as others who have spent years in leadership. The departure of such an experienced group is likely to sting, particularly as appropriations season kicks into high gear before the end-of-September deadline.

Specht had served as McCarthy’s policy director, and Yaworske is an expert on appropriations and budget issues. Both would have been leaned on heavily as the House crafts appropriations bills.

However, reports indicate Congress is likely to pass a continuing resolution to continue current spending levels into the lame duck session of Congress — after the November elections but before a new Congress, and possibly a new president, is sworn in.

While Johnson had kept Specht on staff, he replaced him as policy director with Dan Ziegler, who had previously worked for Johnson. Before returning to the House, Ziegler lobbied for Williams & Jensen, a massive lobbying firm.

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Truth Voices reported in April that Ziegler’s client list includes several top companies, some of which seem to have a financial interest in seeing Congress pass Ukraine aid.

Johnson, who despite holding a small majority has repeatedly advanced Democrats’ priorities to the point that 163 Democrats voted earlier this month to save his speakership, committed to soldiering on.

“Because the 118th Congress became the first in history to vote to change Speakers midstream, these friends committed to assist us for the first six months of the transition, and through some of the most difficult policy challenges in decades,” Johnson said in an emailed statement to Punchbowl. “We are truly happy for them as they now pursue their new opportunities in the private sector, and we know they will be a great success.”

“We look forward to announcing soon the new talent that will be joining our policy team — as we continue to advance our conservative agenda and build momentum to grow our Republican majority this fall,” Johnson concluded.

McCarthy talked up the trio, telling Punchbowl, “Brittan, Jason, and Preston are the strongest brain trust in the Capitol. They have been involved in every major negotiation over the last 7 years. Whether it’s tax, appropriations, financial services, or defense, AI and the debt limit, they’ve been in the room and at the table with the highest stakes.”

Bradley Jaye is a Capitol Hill Correspondent. Follow him on X/Twitter at @BradleyAJaye.

Bradley Jaye
Bradley Jaye
Political reporter.

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