Mike Johnson is popular with the House Majority.
The events of early October regarding the U.S. government’s potential and, eventually, postponed shutdown led to the dismissal of the former Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Less than a month later, on Oct. 25, with only a few weeks until the deadline for the temporary funding bill passed with McCarthy, Congress has settled on his replacement: Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA). Upon McCarthy’s ousting, there were several candidates suggested and nominated by the Republican caucus of the House, yet none of them were McCarthy’s speaker pro tempore, Patrick McHenry (R-NC). McHenry’s goal was to find the next Speaker rather than serve in the position until a less agitated time. The Democratic caucus continuously nominated Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).
Following four voting periods, Johnson won the vote unanimously over Jeffries 220-209. Before he was nominated, the other Republican candidates, such as Steve Scalise (LA), Jim Jordan (OH) and Tom Emmer (MN), faced a lack of support and backlash from the House Republicans. Within the tumultuous few weeks in which the House was scrambling to find a new Speaker, Scalise, Jordan and Emmer were active nominees for less than a week. Emmer was only an active nominee for a few hours before withdrawing his candidacy.
Congress was in a paralysis before Johnson was nominated and then elected. The Louisiana representative, despite being lesser-known, rose to power amongst his party, securing their votes. He is what the Republicans were seeking from the next Speaker — a conservative representative without strong hard-lining beliefs while still holding traditional values.
The House Majority is enthusiastic about the new Speaker, especially because his election put an end to the chaos that resulted from the ousting of McCarthy, which left Congress without a Speaker for three weeks. The House had been struggling to secure a nominee for the Republicans, and this sidelined the focus on the funding bill that needed to be passed to prevent a government shutdown; the deadline is Nov. 17. Now that Johnson is in the seat, discussions about the funding have already started to take place to further avoid a shutdown.
There are claims that Johnson’s quick success in winning the Speaker position, and thus becoming the second in line for the presidency following Vice President Kamala Harris, was due in part to his fair, conservative stance and lack of enemies within the party. Many of his stances align with the popular beliefs of former president Donald Trump, who offered his support for him, saying that Johnson would, “make a great speaker.” In fact, Johnson has worked with Trump in the past, serving on his impeachment defense team and recruiting House Republicans to support a lawsuit to overturn the 2020 election results.
Johnson’s first action as the new Speaker of the House is to formulate a plan of action, yet he has been careful about his new position. He gave time for the representatives to rest before reconvening, has curated a calm media presence and is in a precarious position within the country, leading to leniency from his party. However, the new Speaker has much to focus on in the upcoming weeks to ensure the government and its employees can continue working.