Despite having little more than a week to avert a government shutdown, House Speaker Mike Johnson has sent representatives home early. He was also scheduled to deliver a keynote speech to a far-right conference in Paris on Friday.
Congress has just eight days to figure out how to fund the government and avoid a crippling shutdown. To say that Republican priorities have been elsewhere would be a massive understatement. Johnson has yet to reveal the details of his supposed plan to prevent a shutdown.
Johnson’s early dismissal on Thursday may have been because he needed to get his talking points in order for the Worldwide Freedom Initiative. The New Republic could not confirm whether he delivered his keynote speech as scheduled.
Johnson spokesman Raj Shah tweeted that the speaker was not attending “any events in Paris or anywhere overseas this weekend.” When contacted by The New Republic for additional comment, he said that the House schedule had already been set to dismiss on Thursday. Shah refused to explicitly confirm whether Johnson had spoken virtually, or why the speaker was featured so prominently on WFI social media and event publicity if he did not speak.
It seems that Johnson is a bit of a special guest for the WFI. He gave the keynote speech at the group’s launch event on July 4. The inaugural conference in Paris was organized by the groups Republicans Overseas Worldwide and Republicans Overseas France, with the goal of bringing together “the world’s like-minded conservative, patriotic and center right leaders.”
Other scheduled speakers at the Paris conference included South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, a staunch ally of Donald Trump, and former Trump aide Corey Lewandowski. Noem and Lewandowski have reportedly been having a years-long affair, despite Noem still being married to her husband of more than 30 years, Bryon Noem.
The WFI lineup also includes a former spokeswoman for Moms for Liberty, former U.S. Representative and current Truth Social CEO Devin Nunes, chief Brexit engineer Nigel Farage, and Hungarian politician Balasz Orban. Orban is not related to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, but he does serve as the latter’s political director.
French far-right politician Marine Le Pen was initially slated to speak, but she appears to have dropped out. But the program does feature French far-right candidate Eric Zemmour, who is known for his xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, and hatred of the media.
Johnson has promised to deliver “results” and pass appropriations bills. But apparently, that may have taken a backseat to a speaking gig.
This article has been updated to note The New Republic could not confirm Johnson’s appearance at the event.