Oct 25, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Mike Johnson elected House speaker, ending 22 days of GOP stalemate

 (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Rep. Mike Johnson after becoming the GOP speaker nominee. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) won the floor vote for the House speaker gavel on Wednesday, ending the weeks of stalemate and failed nominations that followed the historic ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)

Why it matters: Johnson managed to get members to rally around him as the GOP's consensus candidate, but he'll face multiple pressing challenges, including just weeks to pass legislation to keep the government open.

  • The House floor vote ended on a tally of 220-209, with no Republicans voting against Johnson.
  • All Democrats voted for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.)

Zoom in: Multiple House Democrats told Axios before the vote that they were wary of a Johnson speakership.

  • "He is not part of the main stream political or legal thought," Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) told Axios' Andrew Solender. "Truly an aberrant candidate for America, but maybe not for a drowning Republican conference searching for a lifesaver."
  • Johnson served as the vice chairman of the House Republican Conference and chairman of the Republican Study Committee prior to winning the nomination.
  • In a memo released before the internal GOP election, Johnson said his top priorities are bringing the remaining Republican-led appropriations bills to the House floor, passing a resolution to condemn Hamas and finding a consensus within the conference for a legislative blueprint for the remainder of the term.

The intrigue: Johnson was previously defeated by House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) who dropped out of the race, later prevailing in an internal vote.

  • Johnson was the fourth GOP nominee — following Emmer, House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise — in the scramble to replace McCarthy.
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