In a significant development, the Republican-led House has elected Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) as its new speaker, bringing an end to a weeks-long stalemate. This impasse ensued after three Republican nominees failed to secure the coveted position following the departure of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from the speakership.
Mike Johnson Defeat Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries
In the initial House floor ballot on Wednesday, Johnson triumphed over Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who was the Democratic nominee. The final vote count stood at 220-209, with a simple majority needed for victory.
What sets Johnson apart is his ability to unify the GOP conference, which holds a narrow majority in the House. This unity had eluded the three previous nominees – House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH), and House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) – earlier in the month. Johnson, the vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, secured the GOP nomination on Tuesday night, shortly after Emmer withdrew his candidacy.
House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) lauded Johnson in her speech nominating him, describing him as “a man of deep faith” who embodies the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Johnson now takes the helm of the lower chamber at a time when Democrats control the Senate, and President Joe Biden, a Democrat, occupies the White House. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) had been serving as speaker pro tempore in the weeks leading up to this election.
Johnson proposed stopgap measure
In a letter to his colleagues before the vote, Johnson proposed a stopgap measure extending until either January 15 or April 15, aiming to prevent a government shutdown in mid-November. This measure aimed “to ensure the Senate cannot jam the House with a Christmas omnibus.” Johnson also outlined an ambitious schedule for passing individual spending bills, including legislation related to energy and water appropriations this week.
Additionally, Johnson called for swift passage of a resolution condemning Hamas following its terrorist attacks on Israel. Looking ahead to the 2024 appropriations process, Johnson included a provision for August that mandates not breaking for a district work period unless all 12 appropriations bills have passed the House. Another goal outlined by Johnson is to bolster the GOP’s majority in the 2024 elections.
Mike Johnson, at 51 years old, is not only a dedicated public servant but also a devoted husband and father of four. He is an attorney who has spent his career fighting for fundamental freedoms and traditional values that hold great importance to the people of Louisiana, as stated in his congressional biography.
Mike Johnson has a legal background
Before entering public office, Johnson worked as a constitutional law attorney, a college professor, and a conservative radio talk show host. After a tenure in the Louisiana state legislature, during which he garnered attention for a bill aimed at preventing government discrimination based on individuals’ views on marriage, Johnson became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives by defeating Democrat Marshall Jones in 2016.
As a member of Congress, Johnson voted in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and a healthcare bill seeking to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act. He also raised questions about the results of the 2020 election and introduced legislation related to border security and parental involvement in minor abortions across state lines.
Republicans rallied around Johnson
While Johnson’s election as the GOP nominee for speaker received support from key Republican figures, Democrats expressed their reservations. A spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee stated that Johnson’s election represented the GOP’s alignment with the most extreme fringes of their party.
In a previous instance, Rep. Kevin McCarthy secured the speaker’s gavel in the 15th round of voting by making concessions to a small group of Republicans. These concessions included restoring the ability of a single member to trigger a process leading to a no-confidence vote. Frustrations with McCarthy’s leadership culminated in Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) filing a “motion to vacate the chair” in early October. This move came after the GOP-controlled House passed a short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown, with Gaetz and seven other Republicans joining Democrats in a 216-210 vote that led to McCarthy’s ousting.
In a show of support, McCarthy and Gaetz, along with Scalise and Jordan, rallied behind Johnson. Former President Donald Trump, the leading contender in the 2024 presidential race for the GOP, also encouraged members to support Johnson after previously endorsing Jordan for the speakership.
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