Mike Johnson Nominated as G.O.P. Speaker Choice After Rejecting Emmer
After a wild day, the ultraconservative and low-key Louisianan was chosen, offering Republicans optimism that the weeks-long impasse that has paralysed the House would end.
House Republicans, desperate to break the extraordinary three-week-long impasse that has left Congress paralysed and without a leader, swiftly rejected yet another of their contenders for speaker on Tuesday and moved to pick a fourth.
A little-known social conservative from Louisiana named Representative Mike Johnson announced his candidature on Tuesday night, following the withdrawal of No. 3 House Republican Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota, hours after he had secured the nomination. Following an immediate outcry from the right, including former President Donald J. Trump, Mr. Emmer's campaign collapsed, leaving the G.O.P. more split than ever.
However, by late Tuesday night, Mr. Johnson seemed to have assembled a coalition that put him in a stronger position to win the speakership than any other contender since previous Speaker Kevin McCarthy was overthrown three weeks ago by hard-right rebels. He said he intended to ask for a floor vote on Wednesday at noon, though it was unclear if he had the necessary number of votes to win.
Following his nomination, Mr. Johnson stood with a large group of fellow Republicans and declared, "Democracy is messy sometimes, but it is our system. "The Republican majority in the House is united."
Mr. Johnson's nomination was the most recent abrupt development in a wild struggle for control of the House Republicans' leadership. They have lurched from one speaker nominee to another, putting their divisions on full display — first with a mainstream conservative, then with a far-right rabble-rouser, then with another mainstream candidate, and now with yet another hard-line conservative.
Mr. Johnson is a lawyer and a social conservative who served as the Republican Study Committee chairman in the past. He was a member of the impeachment defence team for former President Donald J. Trump, spearheaded the effort to get House Republicans to sign a legal brief in favour of a lawsuit aimed at overturning the results of the 2020 election, and designed Mr. Trump's effort to object to their certification in Congress on January 6, 2021.
When reporters questioned Mr. Johnson on Tuesday night about his attempts to void the election, he shook his head, grinned, and said, "next question," to the jeers of the Republicans standing next to him.
Give up! The head of the Education Committee, Representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, screamed, "Shut up!"
Mr. Johnson, an evangelical Christian, supported legislation last year that would essentially prohibit talking about gender identity or sexual orientation in any setting that serves children under the age of ten and receives government funding.
Additionally, he has opposed the continuation of financing for the conflict in Ukraine, which has become a contentious issue within the GOP and the budgetary struggles that any next speaker would face in the coming days.
Tuesday night's secret ballot vote saw 128 Republicans vote for Mr. Johnson, while 44 Republicans supported nominees who weren't on the ticket, including 43 votes for Mr. McCarthy, who many believe was wrongfully removed. However, in an additional vote that took place later, just a small number of Republicans said they would not support Mr. Johnson on the floor, and around twenty Republicans did not show up.
Republicans have such a slim majority in the House that any candidate for speaker may lose only a few votes and still win the position.
The first signs of agreement emerged only hours after Mr. Emmer abruptly withdrew, making him the third Republican to be selected to head the party this month. However, his effort was unsuccessful due to a seemingly never-ending loop of G.O.P. complaints, personality problems, and ideological rifts.
In the last two weeks, Republicans have rejected all three of their top leaders. Republicans have been arguing about who should lead the chamber for more than a month, despite the fact that there are battles going on abroad and a government shutdown is quickly approaching.
Representative Steve Womack of Arkansas stated, "It's a really terrible indictment on government right now," adding, "The American public cannot be looking at this and having any reasonable faith that this conference can be controlled. It is depressing. I mourn. I'm devastated.
The death of Mr. Emmer was yet another example of the ongoing disarray inside the Republican Party. He started the day with a narrow victory, defeating Mr. Johnson 117 to 97 in an internal party nomination race.
However, shortly after Mr. Emmer's nomination, some twenty right-wing Republicans said that they would not support him on the floor, which prevented him from obtaining the necessary majority to win in a vote by the whole House. In addition, while meeting with holdouts in an attempt to win them over, Mr. Trump posted a harsh message on social media denouncing Mr. Emmer as a "Globalist RINO," which stands for "Republican in name only," and said that elevating him would be a "tragic mistake."
On Truth Social, Mr. Trump said, "I have many wonderful friends who want to be Speaker of the House, and some are truly great Warriors." "RINO Tom Emmer, with whom I am not familiar, is not among them. He never appreciated MAGA's breadth and depth or the power of a Trump endorsement. "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"
Most of the people who rejected Mr. Emmer were supporters of Mr. Trump and members of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus.
Shortly after, Mr Emmer informed Republicans in a private meeting that he was withdrawing his campaign, according to a source with knowledge of his decision who spoke about the private conversation on condition of anonymity. He then hurried out of the room to avoid answering questions from the media.
By Tuesday night, there were five additional Republicans running for the nomination—none of them well-known throughout the country. After many voting rounds, Mr. Johnson prevailed over Florida Representative Byron Donalds, a member of the Freedom Caucus.
The Republican chaos highlighted a new mentality that has taken hold of the House GOP: dozens of members are behaving in accordance with their own inclinations, beliefs, and allegiances rather than according to the traditional conventions of honouring the victor of the party's internal elections.
Hard-right Republicans accuse their more centrist and business-minded colleagues of belonging to a Democratic "uniparty," and they view themselves as a separate political party from them.