In a matter of hours, Louisiana Republican Rep. Mike Johnson was thrust from the number-five GOP leadership position to second in line to the presidency.
After three weeks, Republicans in the dormant House of Representatives on Wednesday elected Johnson as the new Speaker of the House.
Johnson, age 51, was elected unanimously by Republicans. The final vote was 220-209.
The GOP conference nominated Johnson late Tuesday night, shortly after their third nominee in three weeks, Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota, was forced to drop out after opposition led by former President Donald Trump.
Trump said of Johnson: "Getting back to Congress, we think Mike Johnson is going to do really well. He is popular. He is smart, he is sharp. He's gonna be fantastic. I think he's gonna be a fantastic Speaker."
Johnson will hit the ground running after taking the gavel as a government funding agreement is due by Nov. 17. He'll also have to navigate the political divide over a new emergency funding which would send billions more of U.S. taxpayer money to Ukraine.
Johnson gets high marks from supporters of border enforcement, one area of the utmost importance to conservatives.
“Johnson is not only strong on border security, but he has also twice introduced legislation to help prevent fraud and abuse in the asylum system,” said Andrew Arthur, a former immigration judge.
“If the new speaker is Mike Johnson, the man in the chair will also be one of the leading experts on that topic. Trust me,” added Arthur, now with the Center for Immigration Studies.
Johnson had previously stated: “You cannot just open the borders and allow everybody in the world in. It doesn’t work that way. This is not a sustainable trajectory. And I think people know that.”
Johnson was one of several members who made the open border under Biden a key issue in the 2022 elections that gave the GOP control of the House. “I think because of that they’re going to give us control of Congress again, and I can assure you that when we do this will be among our top priorities,” he promised two years ago.
But Johnson also admitted he was clear-eyed on the impossibility of getting Team Biden to change its mind on the open border, but said that a GOP majority should continue to push for a deal and if that fails should work to dump Biden in 2024.
“Now, I have no illusions about this. I’m sure that President Biden will veto anything we send him, but it will send a very strong message. If we can’t override a veto, we’ll be ready to run when the next Republican president is elected two years later,” he said.
Johnson was nominated for the speaker’s gavel by Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York.
“As vice chair of our conference, he has united all of our members to speak clearly and boldly on behalf of the American people,” Stefanik said. “A friend to all and an enemy to none. Mike is strong, tough and fair. And above all, Mike is kind.”
Democrats, who voted for their Minority Leader, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, framed Johnson as a far-right MAGA follower.
“Has this been about a focus of House Republicans, to find the person who can pass their extremely litmus test to oppose marriage equality, enact a nationwide abortion ban without exceptions, gut Social Security and Medicare and support overturning a free and fair election?” Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, the Democrat’s caucus chair, said in his speech nominating Jeffries. “It’s a fair question.”
Mike Johnson called out Nancy Pelosi after she ripped up Trump's State of the Union speech:"She committed a felony when she ripped that paper up." pic.twitter.com/V77fyjXgil — Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) October 25, 2023
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