Oct 24, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Mike Johnson becomes fourth GOP House speaker nominee in past two weeks

Rep. Mike Johnson. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

House Republican Conference Vice Chair Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Tuesday won an internal vote to become the fourth GOP nominee for speaker since Oct. 11.

Why it matters: The House speaker vacancy has torpedoed Congress' ability to pass legislation during a period of global upheaval and as a federal funding deadline draws near.

  • Johnson is the latest Republican to win the party's nomination for the role since former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was removed earlier this month.
  • Johnson said Tuesday that he plans to advance to a full House floor vote on Wednesday, saying "this group is ready to govern."
  • He told reporters on Tuesday that the conference is "united" and he's ready to face a vote.

Driving the news: Johnson defeated a field of four other Republicans vying for the nomination on Tuesday evening.

  • Johnson won the final ballot with 128 votes compared to 29 for Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) and 44 for other — including 43 for McCarthy, who was not formally running.
  • Johnson initially finished second to House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) in an earlier vote on Tuesday, but Emmer dropped out hours later due to a lack of support from conservatives.
  • A former chair of the Republican Study Committee, Johnson ran to the right of Emmer.

The backdrop: A lawyer and former state legislator, Johnson was elected to Congress in 2016 and served as RSC chair from 2019 to 2021, when he was elected GOP conference vice chair.

  • Johnson spearheaded an amicus brief, signed by 126 House Republicans, in support of a lawsuit geared towards overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The intrigue: Having served only three full terms in the House, Johnson would have by far the shortest congressional tenure of any speaker in modern times prior to their election.

What we're watching: Johnson will now have to shore up the 217 Republican votes needed to become speaker.

  • His two predecessors for the nomination – Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) – both failed to win over enough detractors to secure the gavel.
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