The decade's most triggering comedy
The GOP-led House elected Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) as its 56th speaker, ending a weeks-long stalemate in which three Republican nominees failed to win the gavel after Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) got pushed out of the speakership.
In the first House floor ballot on Wednesday, Johnson defeated Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the nominee for the Democrats. The final tally was 220-209. A simple majority was needed for victory.
“It is the honor of a lifetime to have been elected the 56th Speaker of the House,” Johnson said in a post to X, adding later, “As Speaker, I will ensure the House delivers results and inspires change for the American people. We will restore trust in this body. We will advance a comprehensive conservative policy agenda, combat the harmful policies of the Biden Administration, and support our allies abroad. And we will restore sanity to a government desperately in need of it. Let’s get back to work.”
It is the honor of a lifetime to have been elected the 56th Speaker of the House.
Thank you to my colleagues, friends, staff, and family for the unmatched support throughout this process.
It has been an arduous few weeks, and a reminder that the House is as complicated and…
— Rep. Mike Johnson (@RepMikeJohnson) October 25, 2023
Johnson managed to largely unite the GOP conference, which has a narrow majority in the House, in a way that the three prior nominees — House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH), and House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) — failed to do this month. Johnson, the vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, won the GOP nomination on Tuesday night in the hours after Emmer dropped out.
“A man of deep faith, Mike epitomizes what it means to be a servant leader. A deeply respected constitutional lawyer, Mike has dedicated his life to preserving America’s great principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) said in her speech nominating Johnson on Wednesday.
Today is the day that House Republicans will humbly look in our hearts and elect @RepMikeJohnson as Speaker of the People's House.
A man of deep faith, Mike epitomizes what it means to be a servant leader. A deeply respected Constitutional lawyer, Mike has dedicated his life… pic.twitter.com/JJJBGf4dRS
— Rep. Elise Stefanik (@RepStefanik) October 25, 2023
Johnson now leads the lower chamber at a time when Democrats control the Senate and President Joe Biden, a Democrat, sits in the White House. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) had been serving as speaker pro tempore over the past few weeks.
In a letter to colleagues before the vote, Johnson proposed a stopgap measure through January 15 or April 15 to avert a government shutdown in mid-November “to ensure the Senate cannot jam the House with a Christmas omnibus” along with an “ambitious schedule” to pass individuals spending bills, including energy and water appropriations legislation this week.
He additionally called for quickly passing a resolution to condemn Hamas after its terrorist attacks on Israel. Looking ahead to the 2024 appropriations process, Johnson included a provision for August that says, “DO NOT break for district work period unless all 12 appropriations bills have passed the House.” Another listed aim of Johnson’s was to expand the GOP majority with the 2024 elections.
NEW — MIKE JOHNSON, who is likely to win the speakership today, says he will pass the Energy and Water approps bill THIS WEEK pic.twitter.com/VqxCRS7UnE
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) October 25, 2023
Johnson, the 51-year-old son of a firefighter, is a “dedicated husband and father of four and an attorney who has devoted his life and career to fighting for the fundamental freedoms and traditional values that have always been a priority to the people of Louisiana,” according to his congressional biography page.
He worked as a constitutional law attorney before joining public office. Other work included being a college professor and conservative radio talk show host. After a tenure in the Louisiana state legislature, during which time he made waves for a bill meant to keep the government from discriminating against people over their view of marriage, Johnson became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives after defeating Democrat Marshall Jones in 2016.
As a member of the U.S. Congress, Johnson voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and a healthcare bill that sought to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act. He also questioned the results of the 2020 election and introduced a border security bill as well as legislation to make it a crime to transport a minor across state lines to get an abortion without “satisfying parental involvement law.” In addition to serving as vice chairman of the House Republican Conference and deputy whip for House Republicans, Johnson had committee assignments with the Judiciary and Armed Services Committees.
— CSPAN (@cspan) October 25, 2023
Democrats were not impressed with Johnson as the GOP nominee. A Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman said in a statement that electing Johnson as speaker would represent how the GOP conference “has completely given in to the most extreme fringes of their party.”
In January, McCarthy won the speaker’s gavel in the 15th round of voting after making concessions to a small group of Republicans, such as restoring the ability of a single member to trigger the process that would lead to such a no-confidence vote. Citing frustrations with McCarthy’s leadership, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) filed a “motion to vacate the chair” in early October after the GOP-controlled House passed a short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown. Gaetz and seven other Republicans joined with Democrats in a 216-210 vote that ousted McCarthy.
McCarthy and Gaetz, along with Scalise and Jordan, rallied in support of Johnson in the end. Former President Donald Trump, the GOP frontrunner in the 2024 presidential race, encouraged members to support Johnson on Wednesday after previously endorsing Jordan for speaker.