Louisiana Republican in the spotlight

Representative Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana, left, speaks with Representative Kat Cammack, a Republican from Florida, outside of a House Republican caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023.

Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Republican Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana was elected speaker of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, ending a three-week leadership crisis that has paralyzed Congress.

Vice chairman of the House Republican conference and a hard-right conservative, Johnson had maintained a low public profile until he was thrust into the spotlight this week after securing the party’s nomination for speaker.

Johnson was elected unanimously by the 220 Republicans who voted, despite being the fourth nominee tapped by the GOP conference in two weeks, as the deeply divided party repeatedly failed to put forward a candidate who had enough support.

Every Democrat who voted Wednesday cast their ballot for Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.

Johnson managed to rally the GOP conference behind his bid after recalcitrant Republicans rejected the three previous nominees — House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota.

Johnson’s bid received a boost Wednesday from former President Donald Trump, who encouraged Republicans to vote for the Louisianan.

He also consolidated the backing of several moderate New York Republicans who had been reluctant to support some of the more hardline conservatives who sought the top job.

Johnson, who is serving his fourth term in Congress, will wield the gavel as America faces a looming government shutdown, Israel wages war on Hamas, and Ukraine struggles to beat back Russia’s invasion.

The House needs to pass spending legislation by Nov. 17 to keep the government running, and President Joe Biden has called on Congress to approve emergency security assistance for Israel and Ukraine.

Johnson voted against legislation in September that has kept the government running through November, and he has opposed assistance for Kyiv in the past. The Louisiana Republican said earlier this month that the House needs to take all necessary action to help Israel destroy Hamas.

Johnson is a staunch social conservative who participated in Republican efforts to overturn Biden’s 2020 election victory.

He filed a legal brief in support of a lawsuit that sought to block the certification of Biden’s victories in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Johnson then supported objections in Congress to the certification Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s 2020 presidential results.

Johnson also served on Trump’s legal team during the former president’s first impeachment.

He previously did legal work for the Alliance Defense Freedom, an ultraconservative advocacy group that litigates to restrict abortion access and prohibit same-sex marriage.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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