In a party-line vote of 220 to 209, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) has been elected as the 56th speaker of the House, ending weeks of chaos and dysfunction among Republicans. The appointment of a speaker allows the House to function as a legislative body once again, enabling lawmakers to consider bills to fund the government and support foreign allies. Johnson's relatively short tenure in the House and low national profile likely contributed to his selection, as previous Republican nominees faced internal conflicts and opposition.
Despite being a staunch social conservative who has opposed abortion and gay rights, Johnson has managed to avoid making enemies during his time in Congress. He led his colleagues in asking the Supreme Court to throw out the 2020 presidential election on behalf of then-president Donald Trump, despite the lack of evidence of widespread fraud. Johnson also voted to object to certifying the election results, even after the Capitol was breached by a mob of Trump supporters.
The previous Republican speaker candidate, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), withdrew from the contest after just four hours due to opposition from Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and others who believed he had not adequately supported his predecessor, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.). Some Republicans also refused to back Scalise or Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) due to their dissatisfaction with the removal of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from the speakership after just nine months.
Speaker Johnson now faces significant challenges, including the upcoming deadline to fund government operations and avoid a shutdown, as well as requests for military aid for Israel and Ukraine. McCarthy was ousted as speaker by hard-liners who believed he had violated a commitment not to pass bills with Democrats. Johnson's election has been seen by some as a victory for the "Make America Great Again" movement, symbolizing the power shift within the Republican Party.
Despite these significant issues, Johnson declined to comment on whether the 2020 election was stolen as he made his way to the chamber door with his fellow Republicans to assume his role as speaker.