Representative Mike Johnson (R-LA) became Speaker of the House of Representatives Wednesday. He received the vote of all 220 House Republicans. It certainly took a while for House Republicans to agree on who would take the position after former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. But Johnson was elected by the full House 220 to 209. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) received the 209.
Louisiana’s first-ever Speaker of the House, though not widely known outside of the House (and Louisiana), has been extremely active in Congress since his first House term in 2017.
Johnson is a close friend of mine. He routinely joins our streaming show “TNN Live!” to discuss the day’s issues with me and our listeners. I thought it would be good for our readers to hear how the Congressman addressed his fellow House members immediately after taking his oath of office:
The House’s 56th speaker, Mike Johnson, fresh off his ascension to the job with the unanimous support of his GOP colleagues, promises to move forward rapidly as the government faces a November 17 shutdown deadline.
In a letter to his colleagues sent shortly before he was elected speaker, Mr. Johnson said he would pass all remaining appropriations bills before the deadline rather than adopt a short-term funding bill to extend the budget deadline, known as a continuing resolution.
It is a heavy lift for the new speaker, to be sure, considering that the House has yet to write the bills, amend them, debate them, and pass them — not to mention reconciling the legislation with the Democratic Senate’s versions while also negotiating with President Biden.
“We all agree the urgency of this hour demands that the next speaker of the House must present a specific plan for bold, decisive action that will: engage our members in productive work as one successful team, advance our key principles and legislative priorities; and allow us to demonstrate good governance,” the Louisiana conservative said shortly before his election. “We must take action right away.”
An elated Congresswoman, Kat Cammack, says that Mr. Johnson’s plan is precisely what the House needs with just days to go before the shutdown deadline. “The urgency is real,” the Florida representative says. “You see an exceptionally aggressive calendar leading all the way up until Thanksgiving. We are going to get our appropriations done. He’s even said he wants to get the farm bill done by December, which up until this point people had said: ‘that won’t get done until next Congress.’”
Mr. Johnson, a 51-year-old devout Baptist who hails from rural Louisiana, was elected by his Republican colleagues to the speaker’s chair in a Wednesday afternoon vote. He won the support of all 220 GOP members in attendance, while the minority leader, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, was supported by all 209 Democrats present.
In a statement, Mr. Biden congratulated the new speaker on his election, saying he hopes the GOP House is ready to move beyond the chaos to begin good-faith negotiations on the budget.
“Jill and I congratulate Speaker Johnson on his election,” the president wrote. “As I said when this process began, whoever the Speaker is, I will seek to work with them in good faith on behalf of the American people. That’s a principle I have always held to and acted on – delivering major bipartisan legislation on infrastructure, outcompeting China, gun reform, and veterans care.”
Shortly before he was sworn in, Mr. Johnson addressed the House to say that he hopes to move forward on a bipartisan path to help heal the divisions in the House and in the country more broadly. The lone Democratic representative who hails from the Pelican State, Congressman Troy Carter, said that he hopes Mr. Johnson lives up to those promises.
“I have known the speaker for a long time,” Mr. Carter says. “I consider him a friend. … I will reach out to him on all issues because we have a relationship. I will try to be the bridge, if you will, to recognize and utilize our relationship to demonstrate that Republicans and Democrats can get along. Because we have ideologically very different views today and yesterday, it does not mean they have to be that way tomorrow.”
Ms. Cammack stated that Mr. Johnson told his colleagues that bringing an aid package for Israel to the floor would be his top priority in the coming days. Mr. Biden has already sent Congress a $106 billion foreign aid bill that includes funding for Israel, Ukraine, and Free China and billions of dollars to help secure the southern border. A meaningful number of Republicans are objecting vociferously to Ukraine aid, which they oppose, being linked to aid for Israel, which they support.
Senator Schumer says that the upper chamber will take up the request immediately and will likely pass the package with broad bipartisan support. Ms. Cammack and her Florida colleague, Congressman Byron Donalds, both say that the package should be broken up and voted on as individual bills. Mr. Johnson has not commented on the package and did not take questions from reporters after he was elected on Wednesday.