Lucy Sheldon ’27
On Oct. 26, Republican Representative Mike Johnson from Louisiana was elected as the new Speaker of the House three weeks after Kevin McCarthy’s unprecedented removal from the position. The aftermath of McCarthy’s departure ushered in a tumultuous period for the Republican party, as factions of the party divided on who to nominate and elect as the next House Speaker. Following three nominations within the party after McCarthy’s removal, Johnson received 220 votes from all members of the Republican Party.
The vacancy in the role of House Speaker resulted from pressures placed upon Speaker McCarthy by Congressman Matt Gaetz and some of his fellow Republican colleagues due to disagreements over a bipartisan stopgap bill aimed at averting a government shutdown. Representative Patrick McHenry temporarily assumed the role of Speaker as per McCarthy’s recommendation following his removal. McHenry then called for a recess to enable House Republicans to deliberate on their potential nominee picks. The nomination process involved intense competition, with a dozen candidates initially vying for the position. Only four managed to secure the necessary votes within the Republican caucus in order to advance to the floor. Of the four contenders, Louisiana Representative Steve Scalise and Minnesota Representative Tom Emmer voluntarily withdrew from the race, citing their inability to secure a majority. Ohio Representative Jim Jordan had lost the necessary votes throughout three rounds of voting before ultimately withdrawing. Representative Mike Johnson managed to secure the position after just one round of voting, becoming the 56th Speaker of the House. Upon his appointment as Speaker of the Republican-controlled House, Mike Johnson described it as the “honor of a lifetime.”
An audio recording from a Republican caucus meeting held on Jan. 5, 2021, published by the New York Times, includes statements from Johnson arguing that states had violated the Constitution by changing their voting laws during the pandemic therefore invalidating Biden’s election. Johnson had previously worked as a lawyer for the Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization known for its stance against abortion and LGBTQ rights. Johnson has been outspoken in his opposition to homosexuality, describing it as “inherently unnatural” and a “dangerous lifestyle.” Over his six-year tenure in Congress, he co-sponsored a 20-week abortion ban at the national level. Johnson proposed legislation to prohibit federal funding for education programs that include LGBTQ topics for children under 10, while firmly opposing legislation mandating federal recognition of same-sex marriages. He has also co-sponsored bills that would allow for greater protections for carrying a concealed gun. During his time as a House Representative, he served on the Judiciary Committee and the Armed Services Committee.
Speaker Johnson has expressed his intention to work on a resolution to provide funding of $14 million for Israel in accordance with demands from the White House. He also voiced his commitment to addressing the issues surrounding the “broken border” between Mexico and the United States. The Speaker has not yet declared his stance on the impending government shutdown. The previous stopgap bill will continue to provide government funding until Nov. 18.