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Who is Mike Johnson, the new U.S. House Speaker?

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Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have finally agreed on a candidate for the crucial role of Speaker: Mike Johnson.
mike johnson house speaker

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have finally agreed on a candidate for the crucial role of Speaker: Mike Johnson.

Johnson, a conservative from the state of Louisiana, is the House’s 56th speaker after winning a vote a short time ago.

He was a key figure supporting Donald Trump’s denial of the 2020 election result.

Background

The Speaker is the most powerful position in the U.S. House of Representatives, one of the two law-making bodies of the U.S. Congress.

They manage the passage of bills and oversee House debates. They are also second in line for the Presidency after the Vice President.

The Speaker is chosen by a majority vote in the House, so typically comes from the party who controls that chamber.

Speaker chaos

Since 2022, Republicans have had a slim majority in the House (221-212).

However, the party has been divided over the choice of Speaker. Republican Kevin McCarthy was chosen in 2022 after several rounds of voting, but was ousted earlier this month after a handful of Republicans turned on him.

Since then, three Republican nominees – Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan and Tom Emmer – have failed to win enough support to replace McCarthy, leaving the House unable to vote on laws.

Mike Johnson

Johnson, who has served in Congress since 2016, was elected as Speaker several hours ago with 220 votes for and 209 against (some members were absent).

He was assisted by the support of Trump, who is the frontrunner to be the Republican nominee for President in 2024.

In 2020, Johnson was a key author of a bid to overturn Trump’s election loss in the Supreme Court. He opposes same-sex marriage, abortion, and support for Ukraine.

What next?

The House will once again be able to debate and vote on bills. Johnson identified aid for Israel, which has bipartisan support, as a key priority.

However, the turmoil in the House is likely to continue. A stalemate over passage of the federal budget has threatened to send the U.S. Government into shutdown.

McCarthy’s attempts to avoid that scenario were central to his ousting. However, a shutdown still looms if Congress cannot agree by 17 November.

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