Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) won the House speaker race Wednesday, earning unanimous support from Republicans in an election that ended an unprecedented three-week vacancy left when Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) became the first speaker in history to be removed by the House.
Johnson won the election 220-209 in a single round of voting Wednesday, earning three more votes than the 217 needed to win, with unanimous support from Republicans.
Republicans nominated him for the position late Tuesday, hours after their previous nominee, Rep. Tom Emmer (Minn.), dropped out of the race.
The congressman was widely expected to win the election Wednesday after all but three members present at Tuesday’s GOP conference meeting reportedly said they would vote for Johnson in a formal election on the House floor.
Former President Donald Trump expressed support for Johnson, but stopped short of endorsing him, writing Wednesday on Truth Social he is staying out of the race, but giving Republicans his “strong suggestion” to vote for Johnson and “get it done, fast!”
Johnson, a fervent Trump defender, was dubbed “the most important architect of the Electoral College objections” by the New York Times, for presenting a fall-back option to Republicans who wanted to vote against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election, but were wary of Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud, by suggesting some states loosened their voting rules unconstitutionally during the pandemic—an argument largely rejected by courts.
A former constitutional lawyer, Johnson authored an amicus brief at Trump’s behest in a controversial 2020 case filed by the Texas Attorney General seeking to overturn the results of the election in several states and recruited 125 fellow Republicans to co-sign it.
Johnson also served as a member of Trump’s congressional defense team during his first impeachment trial, alongside former speaker nominee and fellow Trump ally Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who Johnson has referred to as “one [of] his closest friends and brothers.”
Johnson, 51, was elected to represent Louisiana’s 4th congressional district in the northwestern portion of the state in 2016; he serves as deputy whip and vice chair of the GOP Conference and is the former chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee caucus.
“Mike will take the floor tomorrow and he’ll get his 217 votes. It’s the closest of anybody we’ve had so far to becoming our speaker, and I think he gets it tomorrow,” Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) predicted on CNN Tuesday. Buck was among the 20-some Republicans who voted against Jordan in all three rounds of the election last week. Another Jordan opponent, Rep. Carlos Gimemez (R-Fla.), also backed Johnson in a tweet late Wednesday, calling him a “straightforward leader who can unite us as Republicans.”
Republicans cycled through speaker nominees as they failed to reach an agreement on a candidate that could win the backing of enough centrist and far-right members to reach the 217-vote threshold to win the speakership. Emmer dropped out of the race less than five hours after he won a five-ballot nomination process Tuesday. Aside from Johnson, Jordan was the only other nominee to replace McCarthy who has made it to the House floor for a formal vote, but he was removed by the conference Friday after losing three consecutive rounds. The GOP’s first nominee, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), dropped out of the race before the House had the chance to hold an election when it became apparent he did not have enough votes to win. The impasse has prevented the House from moving forward with legislative business, including aid packages for Ukraine and Israel and a deal to stave off a looming government shutdown next month.
$30,000. That’s how much Johnson reported earning last year from teaching online classes at Liberty University, according to his financial disclosure form. He also reported debts between $280,000 and $600,000 from a mortgage, personal loan and home equity line of credit. Most members of Congress earn a $174,000 salary. The speaker is paid $223,500, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Mike Johnson Wins House Speaker Election—Ending Historic Three-Week GOP Impasse (Forbes)
Republicans Pick Mike Johnson As Party’s Fourth House Speaker Nominee Since McCarthy’s Ouster (Forbes)
Tom Emmer Drops Out Of Speaker Race Just Hours After Winning GOP Nomination (Forbes)