Mike Johnson, the newly elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Posted by Speakeasy News > Thursday 26 October 2023 > In the News

Three weeks after Kevin McCarthy became the first ever Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives to be voted out of the Speaker’s chair, the House finally elected a new Speaker on 25 October, the fourth candidate to attempt election: Mike Johnson from Louisiana.

Johnson was elected on his first try on Wednesday, with all 220 Republicans present in the chamber voting for him. Of the previous three candidates, Jim Jordan failed to be elected after three votes and Steve Scalise and Tom Emmer both withdrew their candidacies within hours of having been nominated by the Republican Party, before a vote could take place.

Johnson, 51, has been a representative since 2016. A lawyer and former talk-show host, he is a self-avowed conservative opposed to same-sex marriage and abortion rights. He was a prominent supporter of attempts to discredit Joe Biden’s election in 2020. He was mentored by Jim Jordan but his personality and style are perceived as less abrasive and controversial. As Donald Trump said on Wednesday, from the Manhattan court where he is on trial for fraud, "Everybody likes him, he's respected by all." The endorsement by the former President is seen as the key to Mr Johnson managing to rally the deeply divided Republican Party behind his candidacy.

"The people's House is back in business," said Mr Johnson before being sworn in and proceeding to a vote on resolution in support of Israel in the war against Hamas.

That had wide bipartisan support but it will be much harder to get other legislation passed, since the Republicans only holding a 9-vote majority in the House and are in opposition in the Senate.

And a major challenge looming is trying to get the House to pass a spending bill to avert a federal shutdown. Just before being ousted, Kevin McCarthy had managed to negotiate a short-term spending bill, which runs out on 17 November. Now Johnson has only three weeks to try to get the annual spending bill agreed. Or, as he suggested in his candidacy hearings with his own party, a stopgap measure extending funding until January or April. By which time the U.S.A. will be in the middle of a presidential campaign.

The Speaker’s role is one of the most important in Washington. They are considered the leader of the majority party in the House. They control what legislation is debated, who sits on committees and who gets to speak in the House. They are also second in line, after the Vice-President, to replace the President in case of illness or death.


This is a brief portrait of the new Speaker from NBC News.

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