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POLITICS

Who is Mike Johnson? Everything you need to know about the new House Speaker

Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana has been elected Speaker of the House ending the leadership struggle within the Republican conference. Who is he?

Update:
GOP rally around new Speaker of the House
ELIZABETH FRANTZREUTERS

For just over three weeks the House of Representatives has been without leadership after Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted by a small group of fringe GOP members. On Thursday the leadership struggle within the fractious Republican conference came to an end when all 220 GOP members present voted to give the gavel to Mike Johnson, a Trump ally and staunch religious conservative.

All 209 Democrats present nominated their Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries to be Speaker of the House.

Johnson is the fourth attempt by Republicans to resolve the leadership void since the motion to vacate McCarthy. While Rep. Patrick McHenry has been serving as Speaker pro tempore in the interim, the lower chamber of Congress had basically been paralyzed. McHenry saw his role as limited, unable to bring legislation to the floor for a vote and just a temporary placeholder until a permanent Speaker could be elected.

Who is Mike Johnson? Everything you need to know about the new House Speaker

Representative from the 4th District of Louisiana since 2017, Johnson serves as vice chairman of the House Republican Conference. He will now assume the gavel becoming the 56th Speaker of the US House of Representatives.

Johnson is an ally of former President Donald Trump and opposed certifying the 2020 election results in the House along with 173 of his colleagues on 6 January 2021. That was part of the undoing of Tom Emmer who withdrew his candidacy just four hours after he was nominated yesterday. The New York Times called Johnson “the most important architect of the Electoral College objections.”

Open to keeping the federal government running

The new Speaker signaled in a letter to colleagues that he would be open to passing a stopgap funding resolution to avoid a government shutdown. Congress has until 17 November to pass 12 appropriation bills to fund the federal government or a continuing resolution to give itself more time.

However, Johnson, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, has voted against sending aid to Ukraine. He has called for more transparency and oversight of the money being sent.

Far-right social conservative

Johnson is an evangelical Christian and is to the far right of the political spectrum on many social issues. He opposes abortion, voting for a national ban, and has co-sponsored a 20-week abortion ban.

The new Speaker also supports restrictions on LGBTQ matters. Johnson voted against legislation that had strong bipartisan support in Congress to mandate federal recognition for same-sex marriages.

Last year, he introduced legislation that was dubbed a national version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. It would have prohibited discussing sexual orientation and gender identity, and related issues, in classrooms of any institution that received federal funding.