Friday, June 21, 2024

Mike Johnson elected as House Speaker

by BIZ Magazine

In a unanimous decision, Republicans elected Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, bringing an end to the weeks of political turmoil within their majority. Johnson, 51, will take the reins as a deeply conservative but lesser-known leader in the major seat of U.S. power.

On Oct. 25, Johnson secured the position on the first ballot, receiving support from all Republican representatives. The move was seen as an attempt to put behind the recent weeks of chaos and refocus on the business of governing. Johnson was swiftly sworn into office, becoming second in line to the presidency.

In his inaugural address, Johnson declared, “The People’s House is back in business.”

Mike Johnson’s emergence as the fourth Republican nominee marked the end of a tumultuous period of infighting among GOP factions since the removal of Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker. While not the initial top choice for the role, Johnson, known for his strong religious beliefs and even-tempered demeanor, garnered support from an influential GOP figure, former President Donald Trump, who said, “I think he’s gonna be a fantastic speaker.”

The weeks without a House Speaker had raised concerns, as Republicans had been unable to effectively wield their majority status. President Joe Biden, acknowledging the situation, called to congratulate the new speaker and urged responsible action in addressing pressing issues such as government funding and aid for Ukraine and Israel.

In the lead-up to Johnson’s nomination, far-right House members had opposed a more traditional speaker, while moderate conservatives were averse to a hard-liner. Johnson faced no opposition during the private party roll call, despite the absence of some two dozen Republicans, enough to potentially derail his nomination. However, when GOP Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik introduced Johnson as their nominee, Republicans showed their support with a standing ovation.

House Democrats nominated Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, criticizing Johnson for his role in Trump’s legal effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

With a narrow Republican majority of 221-212 in the House, Johnson could afford only a few detractors to secure the gavel, which he did with a 220-209 vote.

Lawmakers quickly moved to pass resolutions, including one expressing solidarity with Israel and condemning Hamas’ actions, and another addressing a stalled government funding bill.

Endorsements for Johnson poured in overnight, including from Rep. Jim Jordan and Majority Leader Steve Scalise, who had both sought the position earlier.

The rise of Mike Johnson as Speaker comes after a turbulent month, marked by sudden changes and political maneuvering. The congressman, a constitutional law specialist, emphasized his commitment to serving the American people, invoking his Christian beliefs.

As the House gets back to work, Republicans hope to overcome the recent internal divisions and address pressing challenges. Johnson’s election places Louisiana at the forefront, as he joins Steve Scalise as another high-ranking GOP leader from the state.

In this period of transition, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida expressed his belief that “Mike Johnson won’t be the Speaker the Swamp wants but, he is the Speaker America needs.”

Republicans had struggled to conduct routine business during the past month, with challenges like a looming government shutdown and requests for aid to Israel, Ukraine, and border security from President Biden.

Hard-liners in the party sought a leader who would pursue impeachment inquiries into President Biden and top Cabinet officials. Throughout the past weeks, around 15 congressmen vied for the role of Speaker.

During this turbulent period, the House was led by Speaker pro tempore, Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, who was tasked with electing a more permanent Speaker. McHenry, the chairman of the Financial Services Committee, received a standing ovation when his role concluded.

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