Johnson, Like Pence, Draws Praise for Defying His Party and Doing His Job

The gushing accolades directed at Speaker Mike Johnson in recent days for finally defying the right wing of his party and allowing an aid bill for Ukraine to move through the House might have seemed a tad excessive.

After all, a speaker’s entire job is to move legislation through the House, and as Saturday’s vote to pass the bill demonstrated, the Ukraine measure had overwhelming support. But Mr. Johnson’s feat was not so different from that of another embattled Republican who faced a difficult choice under immense pressure from hard-right Republicans and was saluted as a hero for simply doing his job: former Vice President Mike Pence.

When Mr. Pence refused to accede to former President Donald J. Trump’s demands that he overturn the 2020 election results as he presided over the electoral vote count by Congress on Jan. 6, 2021 — even as an angry mob with baseball bats and pepper spray invaded the Capitol and chanted “hang Mike Pence” — the normally unremarkable act of performing the duties in a vice president’s job description was hailed as courageous.

Mr. Pence and now Mr. Johnson represent the most high-profile examples of a stark political reality: In today’s Republican Party, subsumed by Mr. Trump, taking the norm-preserving, consensus-driven path can draw the ire of your constituents and spell the end of your political career.

Mr. Johnson and Mr. Pence, both mild-mannered, extremely conservative evangelical Christians who have put their faith at the center of their politics, occupy a similar space in their party. They have both gone through contortions to accommodate Mr. Trump and the forces he unleashed in their party, which in turn have ultimately come after them. Mr. Pence spent four years dutifully serving the former president and defending all of his words and actions. Mr. Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, played a lead role in trying to overturn the election results on Mr. Trump’s behalf.

Vice President Mike Pence refused to accede to President Donald J. Trump’s demands that he overturn the 2020 election results as he presided over the certification of the electoral college votes on Jan. 6, 2021, even after a mob assaulted the Capitol. Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times
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