The Louisiana congressman, 51, achieved what three previous Republican nominees couldn't, officially replacing former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and allowing Congress to resume urgent budget negotiations
Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson won the House speaker election on Wednesday afternoon in a 220-209 vote on party lines, becoming second in line to the presidency and putting an end to an unprecedented three weeks of infighting among House Republicans that effectively froze Congress.
Johnson — an election denier and far-right Donald Trump ally whose congressional tenure has been characterized by his strong opposition to abortion and LGBTQ+ rights — was far from the party's first choice for speaker, though GOP members failed to unite behind its previous three speaker candidates, each of whom was ultimately removed from the ballot.
The recent chaos in Congress crescendoed when House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the role in a first-of-its-kind recall on Oct. 3 that was initiated by far-right Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz.
The House cannot conduct business without a speaker installed, creating a dire situation due to a looming government shutdown on Nov. 17 and the urgent need to decide on funding packages for Israel and Ukraine.
After McCarthy's ouster, Republicans initially nominated Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise to backfill his position, but the No. 2 House Republican quickly learned he would not have enough votes to win the formal speaker election on the House floor, and he withdrew himself from consideration for the role the following day.
Last week, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan was selected as the new Republican House speaker nominee. But after three rounds of voting in the House speaker election, Jordan was also unable to secure the number of votes needed to win. By Friday, his dreams of the speakership were dashed when members of his own party voted to drop him as the party's House speaker nominee.
Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer — who is currently House majority whip — was then chosen as the party's third-choice nominee on Tuesday, but he, too, dropped out within only a few hours when it became clear that he would not have the necessary 217 votes to become the House speaker in a floor vote.
That brought the House Republican Conference to nominate Johnson on Tuesday evening, hours after Emmer withdrew his name.
Who Is Mike Johnson?
Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson, 51, served as a deputy whip for the House GOP and sits on the House Judiciary Committee. He is in his fourth congressional term and, prior to running for speaker, he maintained a relatively low national profile.
Johnson's political positions are largely attributed to his ultraconservative religious views, which have led him to fight for prayer in public schools and lobby against reproductive rights and LGBTQ+ freedoms.
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He has expressed disapproval of the landmark Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage in 2015 and is supported by a record 71 percent of Americans. In 2022, he introduced a bill aiming to ban mention of sexual orientation and gender identity in federally funded institutions. Called the Stop the Sexualization of Children Act, it was equated to Florida's controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill.
Johnson also previously led an amicus brief on behalf of more than 100 Republican members of Congress in support of a lawsuit seeking to overturn the 2020 election results in favor of Trump in four swing states, which was eventually thrown out by the Supreme Court.
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