In a surprising turn of events, Rep. Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana, emerged victorious in the race for Speaker of the House on Wednesday, bringing an end to three weeks of political chaos following the historic removal of Rep. Kevin McCarthy from the position. Johnson’s ascension places him second in line for the presidency.
With unwavering support from all 220 Republicans in attendance, Johnson secured the speakership, surpassing the required 215-vote total. On the opposing side, all 209 Democrats present voted for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic Party’s House leader.
Addressing his colleagues, Johnson remarked, “The people’s House is back in business,” just before he was sworn in as the new Speaker of the House.
Notably, Johnson was the fourth Republican nominee for the speakership in just three weeks. He took the place of Rep. Tom Emmer, whose candidacy lasted a mere four hours before he withdrew on Tuesday. The other two candidates, Reps. Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan, also removed their names from consideration earlier in the process, failing to garner enough support to unite the party.
Mike Johnson, a relatively little-known lawmaker from Louisiana, has been in Congress since 2017 and previously had no experience in House leadership. However, his plan for passing a series of government spending bills earlier in the week garnered support from some of Kevin McCarthy’s detractors. The broad support he received from the Republican conference sends a clear signal that lawmakers are eager to move beyond the divisive speaker selection process and get the House back to work.
With the speakership secured, Johnson now faces a series of daunting challenges. A pressing issue is the imminent government shutdown, set for November 17, when current government funding is set to expire. In a plan he shared with his colleagues earlier in the week, Johnson suggested that a stopgap measure extending funding until January or April might be necessary to approve further spending and avert a government shutdown.
Last night, after multiple rounds of voting, House Republicans have chosen Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana as the new speaker of the house.
Johnson received 128 votes in the final round of voting, with Representative Byron Donalds of Florida earning 29. Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California received 43 votes.
The night started with five candidates for speaker making pitches to the conference before voting began. Tennessee Representative Chuck Fleischmann was the first candidate knocked out of the running, followed by Rep. Roger Williams of Texas in the second round of voting.
After Williams was eliminated, Representative Mark Green of Tennessee dropped out.
Prior, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota won multiple rounds of voting to become the party’s nominee before being forced to drop his bid when faced with staunch opposition within the conference, as well as from former President Donald Trump.
It has been three weeks since the GOP ousted Kevin McCarthy. The House speaker must accomplish the massive task of uniting the Republican majority.
“We’re going to have to figure out how to get our act together — I mean, big boys and big girls have got to quit making excuses, and we just got to get it done,” said GOP Representative Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, a conservative caucus leader.
Although the candidate list slimmed quickly, it was messy and long, with no obvious choice for the job. Emmer, who is a lawyer, is known as a gruff hockey coach who reached out to former President Donald Trump for backing and gained quickly on the first four ballots.
Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana, a constitutional law expert, stayed a steady second and directly battled Emmer in the fifth-round private ballot.
Other candidates, including Representative Byron Donalds, a top Trump ally, began dropping out. McDonald’s franchise owner, a conservative leader, Representative Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, handed out hamburgers seeking his colleagues’ support but dropped out Tuesday.
Additionally, withdrawing from the race were Representatives Jack Bergman of Michigan, Gary Palmer of Alabama, Austin Scott of Georgia, Pete Sessions of Texas, and Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania.