Sunday, July 21, 2024

Alexander: Mike Johnson as U.S. House Speaker would also be historic and impactful for Louisiana

by BIZ Magazine

I have written previously that it would be difficult to overstate the significance of a Louisiana member of the U.S. Congress becoming Speaker of the U.S House of Representatives.  That applies whether that individual hails from north or south Louisiana.  

I first wrote that in connection to the nomination for Speaker of U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise.  Scalise has now withdrawn himself from consideration.  U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson has now stepped forward to offer his candidacy, among others.

Mike Johnson is from Shreveport-Bossier, and, like Scalise, I have also known Mike Johnson for over 20 years and know him to be a highly cordial, respectful individual.  While Mike is an intellectual, he has not lost his light touch, sense of humor and easy-going manner.  He is unfailingly polite in that toxic environment that is today’s U.S. Congress.  In fact, he is the individual who introduced a “Commitment to Civility” to memorialize an agreement between members of Congress to, among other things, restore collegiality, trust, and civility to the Congress, encourage productive dialogue, and work to build consensus and trust in America’s institutions.   

In January 2021, he was elected by his colleagues to serve as Vice Chairman of the House Republican Conference, one of the seven elected leadership positions for Republicans in the House of Representatives.  In November 2022, Mike was unanimously re-elected to serve another term as Vice Chairman of House Republicans in the 118th Congress.  He also serves as a Deputy Whip for the 118th Congress.  He previously served as chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the largest caucus of conservatives in Congress, known as “the intellectual arsenal of conservatism in the House.”

He also serves on the House Armed Services and Judiciary committees.  (Enormously beneficial to Louisiana military bases, prominently including Barksdale and Ft. Polk).

If he becomes Speaker, Rep. Johnson would impact literally everything that moves or occurs in the U.S. House.  

From handing out coveted committee assignments to managing all of the inner workings of the U.S House itself.  He would specifically address and/or direct appropriations which would no doubt increase the likelihood of Louisiana receiving desperately needed funding for our natural disasters, funding for flood plain insurance, to say nothing of numerous other critical infrastructure upgrades (roads, bridges, etc), and offshore federal mineral royalties that states like Louisiana are constantly having to fight the federal government to keep.

It’s also certainly worth remembering that the U.S. House Speaker is 2nd in the line of presidential succession, meaning that if the president were to die or become incapacitated, the VP serves next and then Speaker. 

Mike Johnson is also well regarded by his fellow members of Congress, including across the aisle, and will provide principled leadership of that body.  In short, his temperament and personality make him well suited to serve as a desperately needed consensus candidate who will serve as a trusted caretaker and an honorable steward of the gavel.  His deep Christian faith, no doubt, lends itself to this monumental task.

I have recently been asked my view of the so-called “chaos” in a U.S. House with no speaker.  Well, “raucous” and ‘chaotic” are what the Framers of our Constitution envisioned when they designed the U.S. House as the “people’s” house—because it was closer to the people with smaller congressional districts and 2-year terms—while the U.S. Senate was to serve as the calmer, more deliberative body with its 6-year terms.

Notwithstanding, though, chaos is ultimately not a long-term strategy.  The House urgently needs a speaker to captain the House “ship” for many reasons not least of which being that the “power of the purse” lies in the U.S. House—Israel, for example, may ask for assistance from the U.S.—as well as the fact that the U.S. House must participate in decisions regarding its numerous other specific constitutional powers requiring the concurrence of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.

Rep. Johnson’s temperament and personality will n0 doubt help him manage his diverse Republican Caucus, one that contains the full spectrum of members.  He will attempt to corral and manage personalities ranging from conservative firebrands all the way to much more moderate Republicans trying to hold on in Blue states.  It must be like trying to herd cats.

Rep. Johnson is as ideal a candidate as any and better than just about any I could imagine.  I wish him luck.  

Royal Alexander is a Shreveport attorney

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