How Well Do You Know New House Speaker Mike Johnson?

On Oct. 25, after more than three weeks of paralysis in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) was elected Speaker of the House by a unanimous vote of Republicans.

Mr. Johnson successfully united a conference that had been deeply divided since the ouster of the former speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), on Oct. 3.

Now second in line for the presidency, Mr. Johnson is a relative unknown to most Americans.

We have published several stories about the new Speaker. I don’t think we’ve ever done this before — other than about former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). The plethora of stories about Ms. Pelosi is because of her constant top-down, Dem vs. GOP actions as the House Leader.

Speaker Johnson is unknown to many Americans. He’s taken the Republican reins in the House at a critical time. It is appropriate for every person in the United States to “know” the new Speaker than just “know about” him. I’ll list here several things about Mike Johnson and his trip to House Leadersip.

Here are 30 things to know about the newly elected 56th speaker.

1. He’s a Native of Louisiana

The representative of Louisiana’s fourth congressional district, Mr. Johnson was born on Jan. 30, 1972. He is 51 years old.

Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, part of the district he now represents, Mr. Johnson is the oldest son of Jeanne Johnson and firefighter James Patrick Johnson. He has three younger siblings.

2. His Education

Mr. Johnson received his high school diploma from Captain Shreve High School in Shreveport.

In 1995, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Louisiana State University. After finishing his undergraduate studies, he went to Louisiana State’s Paul M. Herbert Law Center, earning a Juris Doctor in 1998.

3. He’s a Devout Christian

Mr. Johnson is a devout Christian and a Baptist, and his religion has influenced his political and legal activity over the years. He has worked closely with several Christian groups over the years, including Answers in Genesis, Louisiana Family Forum, the Alliance Defending Freedom, and Focus on the Family.In his speech accepting the nomination, Mr. Johnson also referenced his Christian faith.

“I don’t believe there are any coincidences in a matter like this,” he said. “I believe that … the Bible is very clear that God is the one who raises up those in authority. … And I believe God has ordained for each of us to be brought here for this specific moment and this time.”

4. His Family

Mr. Johnson and his wife, Kelly, have four children: Hannah, Abigail, Jack, and Will. The Johnsons also have a dog, which the lawmaker has been seen walking on Capitol Hill.

5. He Practiced Law Before Entering Politics

After earning his doctorate, Mr. Johnson served as senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which has since rebranded to the Alliance Defending Freedom. While at the institution, he submitted an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of laws prohibiting homosexual conduct as part of the Lawrence v. Texas decision in 2003. Mr. Johnson also supported Louisiana Amendment 1, passed by a referendum, which defined marriage as being between one man and one woman. As part of his legal career, he also defended Christian clients, founding an organization dubbed Freedom Guard, where he was the chief legal counsel for that purpose. Speaking to a Louisiana-based Baptist news outlet, Mr. Johnson described his role in law as that of a “legal ministry.”

“I was called to legal ministry, and I’ve been out on the front lines of the ‘culture war’ defending religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and biblical values, including the defense of traditional marriage and other ideals like these when they’ve been under assault,” he once said.

6. He Was a Radio Host and Teaches at Liberty University

Mr. Johnson has been the host of a conservative radio talk show. Additionally, he was a columnist, a college professor, and a constitutional law seminar instructor. According to his financial disclosures, Mr. Johnson was teaching an online course as recently as last year for Liberty University.

7. He Previously Served in the Louisiana House of Representatives

In addition to these other activities, Mr. Johnson served a single term in the Louisiana House of Representatives, serving from Feb. 22, 2015 to Jan. 3, 2017. The seat, Louisiana’s eighth district, was vacated when the incumbent left to serve as a state judge. Mr. Johnson ran for the seat—and won—unopposed.

8. He Has Represented Louisiana’s 4th Congressional District Since 2017

Mr. Johnson’s federal political career began shortly after his election to the Louisiana House of Representatives. On Feb. 10, 2016, he announced a bid for the fourth congressional district, which had been occupied for eight years by Rep. John Fleming (R-La.). Mr. Fleming was at the time mounting a bid for the U.S. Senate, which he ultimately lost. Mr. Johnson won his election and was sworn into the U.S. House as a congressman on Jan. 3, 2017, as part of the wave of Republican victories that followed under the first election of President Donald Trump.

Since then, he has won reelection by wide margins, winning 64 percent of the vote in 2018, 60 percent of the vote in 2020, and running unopposed for his district in 2022.

9. His Father Died Days Before His Election

During his speech accepting the House’s blessing for him as its 56th speaker, Mr. Johnson spoke about the loss of his father just before his election.

“I lost my dad to cancer three days before I got elected to Congress,” he said. “Three days. And he wanted to be there at my election night so badly.”

Mr. Johnson noted in his speech that he was the first college graduate in his family, adding that “this was a big deal to him.”

10. He Entered House GOP Leadership in 2021

In January 2021, House Republicans selected Mr. Johnson to serve as vice chair of the House Republican Conference. He continued to serve in that role as a deputy to House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) until he acceded to speaker. He has also served as an assistant House Republican whip.

11. Johnson’s Committees

Aside from various leadership roles, Mr. Johnson has served on several important House committees. Most prominently, he was a member and former chairman of the Republican Study Committee. During this Congress, he has gained some prominence as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, along with the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, under Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

Mr. Johnson serves on the House Armed Services Committee, an important assignment given its role in national security and national defense.

12. He Was Chairman of a Constitution-Oriented Subcommittee

Since the start of the 118th Congress, Mr. Johnson has served as the chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government. The panel, previously called the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, has jurisdiction over matters related to constitutional rights, constitutional amendments, federal civil rights, voting rights, claims against the United States,  ethics in government, and other related issues. Following tradition, as the newly elected speaker, Mr. Johnson will step down from each of his committee assignments.

13. He Voted to Repeal Obamacare

In 2017, while a freshman in the House, Mr. Johnson voted for the American Health Care Act of 2017, a bill that would have overturned President Obama’s Affordable Care Act—commonly called “Obamacare.” The reconciliation bill, though passed by the House, failed to garner enough support in the Senate.

14. He Voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Later the same year, Mr. Johnson supported a Republican reconciliation bill encouraged by President Donald Trump to cut taxes. Unlike the measure to repeal Obamacare, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 did make it across the finish line, eventually being signed into law by President Trump.

15. He Opposed the Certification of the 2020 Election

Like many other Republicans in the House, Mr. Johnson had concerns that the 2020 election was marred by widespread fraud. He joined 147 other Republicans in refusing to certify the contest’s results.

16. Key Architect of Electoral College Objections

Before the certification of electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021, Mr. Johnson reportedly was a key architect of arguments against certifying the results.

Rather than making wide-reaching claims about fraud in the 2020 election, Mr. Johnson, in an effort to get colleagues on board, reportedly cited procedural concerns about how the 2020 election was conducted.

He noted that while the Constitution requires that state legislatures choose the time, place, and manner of presidential contests, this wasn’t how things were handled in 2020. Rather, across several states and municipalities, an array of changes were made by governors, courts, and other governing bodies contrary to the expressed will of the state legislatures.

Many of these changes were made under the guise of COVID-19 precautions.

This, according to Mr. Johnson and his allies, flew in the face of explicit constitutional instructions regarding the conduct of elections and cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 election, even without relying on concerns about fraud.

17. He Opposed Establishing the Jan. 6 Panel

Like all but 35 House Republicans at the time, Mr. Johnson opposed the establishment of the so-called Jan. 6 Committee, which was ultimately organized and conducted without any Republican-chosen members.

18. He’s Staunchly Pro-Life

Mr. Johnson is staunchly pro-life. He was a supporter of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and the federally recognized right to an abortion. In the past, Mr. Johnson has supported legislation to impose a federal abortion ban at both the 15-week mark and at fertilization.

19. He Voted to Increase the Debt Ceiling

Mr. Johnson supported Mr. McCarthy’s deal with President Joe Biden that would raise the debt ceiling in exchange for discretionary spending cuts over time. Though some conservatives opposed the package—brought to the floor as the Fiscal Responsibility Act—as insufficient, Mr. Johnson supported the deal with the White House.

“I voted in favor of the Fiscal Responsibility Act this evening to prevent the first-ever default on our country’s debt. We are in a dangerous time; we were presented with only one bill, and we simply had no choice,” he said.

20. He Opposes Ukraine Aid

He has opposed U.S. funding for Ukraine—except for the first aid package. It’s unclear if he’ll carry this attitude as he takes up the speakership.

21. He Didn’t Support McCarthy’s Stopgap Spending Bill

Last month, Mr. Johnson didn’t support the eleventh-hour continuing resolution, a stopgap spending bill, that cost his predecessor, Mr. McCarthy, the gavel. The 45-day continuing resolution to fund the government at current levels expires Nov. 17.

22. He Is a Staunch Supporter of Israel

Mr. Johnson is also a staunch supporter of Israel.

The night before he was elected speaker, he called for the support of Israel as the Jewish state had come under attack by the terrorist group Hamas. The first legislative item to be brought up and passed under the new speaker’s leadership was a resolution introduced by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) condemning Hamas and supporting Israel.

23. He Is of Modest Means

Mr. Johnson’s financial disclosures paint a financial picture far removed from that of some previous speakers. While former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is valued at around $114 million by OpenSecrets, the same source reported that in 2018, just a year after he entered Congress, Mr. Johnson was only the 424th wealthiest member of the lower chamber. At that time, OpenSecrets valued his net worth at -$32,501.

The portrait painted more recently by his financial disclosures reveals much of the same: as a member of Congress, Mr. Johnson makes roughly $174,000. In addition, he makes about $30,000 from Liberty University for teaching an online course. Now that he’s speaker, Mr. Johnson can expect a pay boost of about $50,000. Mr. Johnson made no stock trades in 2022.

24. He Is a Critic of the President and His Son

Mr. Johnson has been an outspoken critic of President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. He told The Epoch Times in June that “the agencies that are designed to protect and serve the American people are being weaponized against them, and we’ve known this for quite some time.”

“When the people lose their faith in our institution, our system of justice, there’s no greater threat to our republic,” he added. “So we have to follow up aggressively. We got to get to the bottom of the truth and follow that truth where it leads.”

Expect this mentality to continue as House Republicans resume their impeachment inquiry of President Biden.

25. He Opposed a Bill Codifying a Federal Right to Same-Sex Marriage

Mr. Johnson voted against the Respect for Marriage Act, a Democrat-led bill that codified a federal right to same-sex marriage. Specifically, the legislation required states to recognize other states’ same-sex marriage laws, even if the Supreme Court were to overturn its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which made same-sex marriage the law of the land. That bill was later passed by an overwhelming vote in the Senate and signed into law by President Biden on Dec. 13, 2022.

26. He Was the Republicans’ Fourth Nominee for the Speaker’s Job

The previous three were House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.). He beat 13 other candidates in total.

27. He Has ‘No Enemies’

Through the contentious search for a new speaker, Mr. Johnson defied the odds by winning unanimous support in his bid for the gavel.

His election united the factions of the caucus across the ideological spectrum, bringing together such disparate elements as Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL). Still, right-wing members of the caucus say his election is a win for conservatives.

Where most politicians come off as preachy, Mr. Johnson showed in his speech after winning the speaker race that he seeks to connect with people conversationally, thereby coming across as personal.

After all, according to Republican colleagues, his friendship with lawmakers from across the spectrum and his reputation of building bridges likely got him the gavel—a characteristic that could work to his benefit as he navigates a narrow GOP majority in the House.

When asked how the new speaker overcame weeks of paralysis in the House, one Republican commented that Mr. Johnson had “no enemies.”

28. He Is Open to Another Stopgap Spending Bill

The House has until Nov. 17 to fund the government. Members of the hardline conservative Freedom Caucus appear to be giving Mr. Johnson a long leash to pursue another continuing resolution so that all 12 appropriations bills can be passed. So far, the House has only managed to pass two appropriations bills and is set to pass a third one, dealing with energy policy, on Oct. 26.

29. He Aligns With President Trump

Mr. Johnson has aligned closely with former President Trump. During the aftermath of the 2020 election, he supported the former president’s legal efforts to review the results. In a Nov. 7, 2020, post on X, formerly Twitter, Mr. Johnson said he had urged President Trump to “keep fighting.” “I have just called President Trump to say this: ‘Stay strong and keep fighting, Sir! The nation depends upon your resolve. We must exhaust every available legal remedy to restore Americans’ trust in the fairness of our election system.'” Though he refused to openly endorse anyone for the job after the fall of Mr. Emmer, President Trump did return the favor, encouraging lawmakers to support Mr. Johnson.

“My strong SUGGESTION is to go with the leading candidate, Mike Johnson, & GET IT DONE, FAST!” President Trump said in a post on Truth Social.

 Mr. Johnson, for his part, also won the support of the most Trump-aligned lawmakers in the lower chamber, including Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), and Troy Nehls (R-TX).

During the Democrats’ speech nominating House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) for the top spot in the House, Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) accused Republicans of focusing on “appeasing Trump” in their efforts to choose a speaker—a comment met with applause by all Democrats, as well as Ms. Greene, Ms. Luna, and Mr. Nehls.

30. Challenges Lie Ahead

Now that he’s taken the gavel, Mr. Johnson has many challenges ahead. With just weeks left to avert a federal shutdown on Nov. 17, it appears hardline conservatives may be giving him leeway to pursue another continuing resolution so that all 12 appropriations bills can be passed. So far, the House has only managed to pass two and, on Oct. 26, is set to pass a third dealing with energy policy. Moreover, the House is expected to resume its impeachment inquiry of President Biden over his alleged lack of transparency surrounding his and his family allegedly profiting from foreign bribes when he was vice president. Whether the House will impeach the sitting president is to be determined.

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