Alex Wong/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — House Speaker Mike Johnson said Thursday that his message to the GOP conference is to “stick together” and “get the job done” to expand the House majority — a priority in an election year where the party has a razor-thin House majority.

Johnson’s comments came at the House Republican retreat in West Virginia on Thursday.

Johnson has struggled with unity within his own party — notably when House Republicans, in back-to-back votes last month, failed in its first try to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and to push through a stand-alone bill to provide aid to Israel amid its conflict with Hamas. Many House Republicans have not aligned with Johnson on his plans to fund the government, too, with many pushing back on his plans to use continuing resolutions.

“House Republicans will continue to fight for policies that help our economy, secure our border, cut spending, unleashed American energy production and help hardworking families and counter our adversaries like China. President [Joe] Biden can continue to try to spin his record, but it is a record of failure and not success and everybody in this country knows that they feel that acutely,” Johnson said at the GOP leadership press conference.

Johnson said Republicans plan to share this message “in every venue and every place around the country as our candidates and our incumbents are out” ahead of the 2024 election.

Johnson said the upcoming election is vitally important for the Republicans’ agenda.

“Everyone says the next election cycle is the most important one of our lifetimes. We’re all accustomed to saying that — we say it every election cycle. Everybody knows this one truly is for all the marbles,” Johnson said.

He added that Republicans are working to deliver for Americans.

“We have to stand together, stick together, get the job done, deliver for the American people and I’m absolutely convinced we do that,” Johnson said. “They’re going to expand our House majority, give us the Senate, and the Republicans will take the White House as well. And then we will all be in a much better mood next January because the agenda will change 180 degrees.”

Johnson said during retreat Wednesday that he is “very optimistic “Republicans will be able to grow the majority and said there are 37 seats they’re targeting.

If Republicans win the majority, Johnson said he expects some changes to House rules, including on the motion to vacate, which led to the ouster of his predecessor, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“The motion to vacate is something that comes up a lot amongst members in discussion. I expect there will probably be a change to that as well,” he said.

“But just so you know, I’ve never advocated for that. I’m not one who’s making it an issue because I don’t think it is one for now. I just think it’s something that a lot of members on both sides of the aisle talk about openly, that they have a desire for more normal process on the House floor again,” Johnson added.

Asked Thursday when the Mayorkas impeachment articles — which the House eventually passed in February — and when they will be walked over to the Senate, Johnson said “it will be done in due course” once funding the government is complete. The deadline to fund the rest of the government is next Friday, March 22.

“We have not sent it over yet. And the very simple answer for that and the reason for it is because we’re in the middle of funding the government in the appropriations process. And the way the procedure works is once the articles of impeachment are transmitted to the Senate, they have a short window within which to process them. So, we didn’t want to interrupt the Senate and their floor time and their deliberation on appropriations because we had risked shutting the government down,” Johnson explained.

In addition to funding the rest of the government by the end of next week, Majority Leader Steve Scalise said the House will dedicate next week to energy legislation and “bringing bills on the House floor next week that will promote American energy to lower costs for families.”

When pressed on in vitro fertilization legislation, Johnson said “it’s not my belief that Congress needs to play a role here.”

Access to IVF has come under scrutiny following the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that said embryos are “children.” The ruling has led many Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, to weigh on the ruling and share their thoughts on IVF.

“I think … this has been handled by the states,” Johnson said.

Johnson made clear that Republicans support access to IVF, saying “we believe — I believe personally this is my personal belief in the sanctity of life.”

Sarah Beth Hensley contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.