Louisiana Republican Mike Johnson has been elected Speaker of the House of Representatives, clearing the way for the chamber to reopen after 22 days of enforced idleness.
Johnson was elected unanimously by the GOP conference, a spectacular moment capping off weeks of intense infighting that saw three other speaker nominees rise and fall.
Johnson was elected on the first ballot on Oct. 25. In a whirlwind of activity the previous day, Johnson was first defeated in a Republican nominating conference but elected less than 10 hours later, after Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) withdrew his nomination.
The 51-year-old attorney now faces the daunting task of keeping the Republican majority united as it faces a series of near-immediate decisions.
Johnson received a lengthy standing ovation from his Republican colleagues upon his nomination by Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), an optimistic indication after the varied reception of the preceding candidates.
“Today is the day that House Republicans will humbly look in our hearts and elect Mike Johnson as Speaker of the People’s House,” Stefanik said, a nod to the passion of many Republicans to put the divisions of the past three weeks behind them.
Stefanik described Johnson as a profoundly moral man of faith who is firm, fair, kind, and able to lead the House in facing the country’s significant problems. “The people are looking to this great chamber to save America, and save America we will,” Stefanik said. “Today is the day we get this done.”
Four hundred twenty-nine members were present when voting started at 1 p.m., with 220 Republicans amongst them. The minimum number of votes required to win the election was 215.
With the support of his fellow Republicans, Johnson won the election by 220 to 209.
“The first action of the House will be the passage of a nonbinding resolution in support of Israel’s right to self-defense,” Johnson said. The resolution, a symbolic measure, has 425 co-sponsors and will be a quick victory for the new Speaker.
After that, the legislative agenda will focus on concluding the appropriations process before government funding expires on Nov. 17.
Johnson seeks to pass the remaining eight appropriations bills quickly, permitting the House to negotiate with the Democrat-controlled Senate from a position of strength. He did not rule out the passage of a second stopgap spending bill if necessary.
The new Speaker has proposed using creative methods to move the spending bills quickly, including pushing some bills out of the appropriations committee and forming a working group to manage issues in the Agriculture bill, which failed to pass in September.
Johnson intends to complete the 2025 spending bills by the end of July, as fiscal hawks have pushed for, to avoid a repetition of the end-of-year hysteria over government spending. Furthermore, the Speaker has said he would only call a recess in August if all 12 appropriations bills were approved.
President Biden has sought emergency funding of almost $105 billion for Ukraine, Israel, allies in the Indo-Pacific, and border security, in addition to the regular appropriations already approved. Republicans are eager to strengthen border security and stand by Israel. However, many remain skeptical about Ukraine aid and insist that the various requests be evaluated separately rather than together.
To further limit Iran’s capacity to support terrorist operations, the House might propose placing additional sanctions on oil sales.