And the speaker is…

After three chaotic weeks following the dumping of Rep. Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the House, it appears the revolving door of GOP candidates jockeying for the position may have come to an end. On Oct. 24,  Republican Rep. Mike Johnson (Louisiana) was elected as the new Speaker by a 220-209 vote against Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat from New York.  

Johnson’s election follows the unsuccessful efforts by Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minnesota) — each trying to prove how far politically right they are in order to secure the 217 votes needed. Despite having Donald Trump’s stamp of approval, Jordan’s bids failed after three rounds of voting. 

McCarthy became the first speaker of the House to be voted out of office Oct. 3, when Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) forced the vote on a “motion to vacate” after McCarthy compromised with House Democrats to pass a temporary extension of the federal budget until Nov. 17, 2023. 

It does not appear that Johnson is likely to repeat McCarthy’s political faux pas.  

Who is Mike Johnson, and what does he stand for or against? 

After taking the gavel and declaring, “The people’s House is back in business,” the new speaker passed legislation that would cut energy efficiency programs. Food & Water Action noted that Johnson “is a climate change denialist” who “has received more money from oil and gas than any other industry.” (Oct. 27)

Johnson is also a close Trump ally who voted against certifying the 2020 election.  He is anti-abortion and celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Johnson has publicly stated that his worldview is based on the Bible, in clear violation of church and state separation.  

In 2022, Johnson introduced legislation modeled after Florida’s ‘“don’t say gay” bill, which would have prohibited discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity at any institution receiving federal funds. He also opposed gender-affirming care for minors.

Multimillionaire Johnson, as chair of the Republican Study Committee between 2019 and 2021, helped draft budget resolutions calling for $2 trillion in Medicare cuts, $3 trillion in Medicaid and Affordable Care Act cuts and $750 billion in Social Security cuts. With the federal government risking a shutdown if Congress fails to pass funding legislation by Nov. 17, it appears highly unlikely that Johnson will repeat McCarthy’s negotiations.

Of growing interest is whether Johnson will continue his opposition to approving President Joe Biden’s repeated requests for more in military funding for Ukraine. Johnson, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, joined 56 other GOP lawmakers in voting against a $39.8 billion aid package for Ukraine in May.  Biden’s request for $65 billion more for Ukraine did not make the cut in the compromise budget passed by the House at the end of September 2023.

Now Biden wants Congress to provide $105 billion in additional military support  for Israel and Ukraine, to further militarize the U.S. border with Mexico and for U.S. naval expansion around Taiwan aimed at China. One of Johnson’s reasons for opposing the aid package to Ukraine in May was that he said more money should be going to “shore up” the U.S. border with Mexico. What position he will take on Biden’s latest aid request and how long Johnson can retain his position remain in question.


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