Rep. Mike Johnson, a relatively lesser-known Republican from Louisiana, was elected as the 56th speaker of the House, marking the end of a tumultuous three-week period of disarray in Congress. Johnson, an ally of former President Donald Trump and a staunch conservative, now holds the second-highest position in the House.
The election of Johnson, known for his amicable demeanor, represents a temporary truce in the GOP’s internal strife. All 220 Republicans voted for Johnson, while all 209 Democrats cast their votes for Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York.
In the weeks leading up to this decision, the GOP witnessed internal divisions and clashes over who should succeed Rep. Kevin McCarthy as speaker, leading to legislative paralysis and significant hurdles, including the looming government shutdown and international crises in Ukraine and the Middle East.
As the new speaker, Johnson faces immediate challenges, including addressing government funding before it expires on November 17 and delivering vital aid packages to allies such as Ukraine and Israel. His election came after Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, and Majority Whip Tom Emmer all withdrew from consideration due to a lack of support.
Johnson’s ascent to speaker from a relatively low-level post is uncommon and reminiscent of former Rep. Denny Hastert’s elevation to the role in 1999. Johnson, the first speaker from Louisiana, is a protege of both Scalise and Jordan and has expertise in constitutional law. He played a key role in the GOP’s efforts to challenge the 2020 election results.
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House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik described Johnson as “a friend to all and an enemy to none” and emphasized his kind demeanor. His election makes him the first speaker from Louisiana and positions both of the top two House Republicans, himself and Scalise, as representatives of the Bayou State.