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Louisiana Conservative Mike Johnson Elected House Speaker with Strong GOP Backing

October 25, 2023









Republicans unanimously elected Representative Mike Johnson as the House Speaker on Wednesday, elevating a deeply conservative but lesser-known leader to a significant position of power in the United States. This marks the end of weeks of political chaos within their majority.

Mike Johnson, aged 51, hailing from Louisiana, secured victory on the first ballot with unwavering support from all Republicans. This move was an effort to put behind the recent weeks of turbulence and focus on the task of governance. Johnson was swiftly sworn into office, now standing as the second in line to the presidency.

After taking the gavel, Johnson declared, “The people’s House is back in business.”

As a less prominent member of the House GOP leadership team, Johnson emerged as the fourth Republican nominee after a tumultuous cycle of political infighting following Kevin McCarthy’s departure. While he wasn’t the party’s top choice, Johnson’s deeply religious and even-tempered nature won him many allies, including former President Donald Trump.

“I think he’s going to be a fantastic speaker,” Trump said on Wednesday, adding to his support for Johnson.

The prolonged absence of a House Speaker over the past three weeks had frustrated Republicans, with some seeing it as a detriment to effective governance. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden reached out with congratulations and urged responsibility in facing challenges such as government funding and aid for Ukraine and Israel.

The division within the Republican Party over the choice of Speaker was evident, with far-right members opposing a more traditional candidate and moderate conservatives hesitating to support a hard-liner. Johnson faced no opposition during a private party roll call, but around two dozen Republicans abstained from voting.

However, when GOP Conference Chair Representative Elise Stefanik introduced Johnson’s nomination on Wednesday, Republicans gave him a standing ovation.

In contrast, Democrats nominated their leader, Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, criticizing Johnson as an architect of Trump’s legal efforts to challenge the 2020 presidential election results.

With Republicans holding a narrow majority in the House, Johnson’s victory wasn’t without detractors, but he ultimately secured the position with a vote of 220-209.

Lawmakers quickly resumed their duties, considering resolutions related to supporting Israel and condemning Hamas. They also turned their attention to a stalled government funding bill.

Overnight, endorsements for Johnson poured in from prominent Republicans, including Representative Jim Jordan and Majority Leader Steve Scalise, who had initially backed other candidates.

Johnson’s ascent to Speaker comes after a turbulent month filled with leadership changes and political infighting within the Republican Party. It was a head-spinning Tuesday when the GOP Whip, Representative Tom Emmer, was nominated and quickly withdrew due to lack of support.

Elevating Mike Johnson to Speaker now positions Louisiana with two high-ranking GOP leaders, placing him above Scalise. His colleagues voiced their support, and his name now adorns the sign outside the Speaker’s office in the Capitol.

In his address to the American people, Johnson emphasized the mission of serving the public and restoring faith in the House.

Republicans have faced numerous challenges, including the risk of a government shutdown, funding legislation deadlines, and President Biden’s call for aid to Israel, Ukraine, and border security. Some hard-liners resist leaders who previously supported budget deals, and they aim for more substantial cuts to federal programs.

In the midst of all this turmoil, some 15 congressmen vied for the Speaker’s gavel. It was a trying period for the House, which had been led by Speaker pro tempore Representative Patrick McHenry during the leadership void. McHenry, although urged by some to take on a more significant role in governance, declined these overtures and received a standing ovation for his service.


Credit AP

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