Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Mike Johnson elected speaker of the House after three weeks of infighting

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to elect Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., as speaker of the House, ending more than three weeks without a speaker and a string of chaotic meetings and votes on Capitol Hill.

Johnson received multiple standing ovations from his colleagues Wednesday before securing the speakership. The final vote was 220-209, with Democrats supporting Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

“Today is the day that House Republicans will humbly look in our hearts and elect Mike Johnson as speaker of the people’s House,” Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., said in a speech from the House floor ahead of the vote, calling Johnson “a man of deep faith,” and “a deeply respected Constitutional lawyer.”

“Mike is strong, tough and fair, and above all, Mike is kind,” Stefanik added.

Stefanik announced on Sunday nine candidates that were making a bid to be speaker, but that number was slowly whittled down as lawmakers dropped out.

“Today is the day we get this done,” Stefanik said in her Wednesday speech.

U.S. Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., gave a speech from the floor to nominate Jeffries for speaker and attack Republicans.

Jeffries blasted Republicans for “all of the infighting, all of the disarray just to end up where we were three weeks ago.”

Johnson pitched Republicans on an aggressive legislative agenda over the next few weeks. Under his leadership, the House will face a looming partial government shutdown deadline in the middle of November as well as ongoing calls to fund Ukraine and Israel in their respective wars.

“We must govern well and expand our majority next year,” Johnson said in a letter to his fellow Republicans over the weekend, asking for support in the speakership race.

President Joe Biden called on Congress last week for more than $100 billion to that end, as well as funding for Taiwan, the immigration issue and other priorities.

That proposal was met with immediate pushback from Republicans in the House and Senate. Some funding for Israel though, is likely to pass. More funding for Ukraine has become a divisive issue for Republicans, and it remains unclear how many more billions lawmakers will be willing to send to Ukraine.

Notably, U.S. Rep. Kevin Hern, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, was running for speaker but later dropped out and told reporters he was supporting Johnson.

The chaotic three-week battle for a speaker began when U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., filed a motion to vacate former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. At that point, Majority Leader Steve Scalise won the nomination but quickly backed out after being unable to secure the needed votes. After that, House Judiciary Chair Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, won the nomination but lost it days later after three failed votes on the House floor with 25 Republicans ultimately voting against him.

Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., was next to secure the nomination but almost immediately withdrew after failing to gain support.

Notably, former President Donald Trump campaigned against Emmer.

Before the vote Wednesday, Johnson posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, a picture of the American flag in the House Chamber, which has inscribed above it “In God We Trust.”