Heath Hutcheson, Campus Carrier staff writer
On Oct. 25, Republican Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana was elected as the new Speaker of the House. His election follows three tumultuous weeks without a speaker following the removal of Republican Kevin McCarthy from California.
In total, the house went about 22 days before Johnson was elected, which is actually not the longest time the chamber has gone without a speaker. Christy Snider, associate professor of history, also brings up some interesting historical comparisons regarding that.
“Back in 1855, the house went 61 days without a speaker, and this was close to the Civil War,” Snider said. “I think whenever there’s a lot of controversy, it looks like it can cause these hard times for enough people to choose somebody that they agree upon for a speaker.”
Michael Bailey, associate professor of political science, provides some insight on the details of
Mike Johnson’s election. “It took many ballots to get [McCarthy] appointed by the Republicans originally to become Speaker of the House,” Bailey said.
“He essentially agreed to certain conditions of this particularly far right contingency led by Florida representative Matt Gaetz. Part of that was basically whenever Matt Gaetz would call foul, then he would have to step down, and that’s what happened.”
Other speakers in the past have stepped down of their own volition, but McCarthy is the first to have been ousted through a vote in the middle of
a congressional term. The process of replacing McCarthy was lengthy and went through multiple potential candidates before finally settling on Johnson.
“They had a really difficult time replacing ,” Bailey said “The first person they tried to pick was Jim Jordan and there were plenty of folks who didn’t actually like Jim Jordan. In order to beat the democrats, the Republicans needed to vote as a block and they wouldn’t do that.”
Much of the turmoil with picking a new speaker was due to the divide amongst not only the house itself, but also the Republican party.
“It seems like there was definitely a split in the Republican party about who they wanted to support and it looked like people who didn’t like McCarthy didn’t want anybody who was too much like him, hence the backlash towards Jim Jordan,” Snider said.
The next person nominated was Republican
Tom Emmer, a representative from Minnesota, who withdrew from the race only hoursafter his nomination due to not receiving the necessary amount of support from his party. Donald Trump even voiced objections towards Emmer’s nomination. Eventually, this led to the Republicans rallying around their final candidate Mike Johnson.
“Most people don’t know very much about Mike Johnson,” Bailey said. “He is not unknown, but he has not been in Congress for a long time, and he is not really known outside of the House, they had to pick someone. After McCarthy, Johnson and Emmer, it took a lot of internal jostling within the Republican party to eventually select the guy.”
Something that has recently worried many is the news of a possible government shutdown. Johnson has brokered a deal with Democrats and moderate Republicans that would fund federal agencies until early 2024 without appropriating any military aid for Israel and Ukraine. The House passed the plan on Tuesday.
The actions Johnson took while he was in Congress in previous years have been somewhat controversial, particularly his actions regarding the 2020 presidential election.
“Where Johnson was most known though, was when he led a Congressional effort to stop the vote count in Pennsylvania,” Bailey said. “He led the Congressional Republicans to try to overturn the electoral count there. He would not characterize himself as an election denialist, but that’s how a lot of Democrats see him.”
Not enough time has passed yet to accurately predict how Johnson will handle his new position. Seeing as how most of the general population are not too familiar with the man currently, there have yet to be any strong public reactions to him one way or the other.
“The Speaker of the House’s job is really to run the House and represent their majority party effectively, but to do that you need to be able to
appeal to broad interest within your party,” Bailey said. “It’s not clear yet whether Mike Johnson can do that.”