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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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Louisiana republican Mike Johnson elected U.S. speaker of the house

Johnson’s election ended a 22-day stall in the U.S. House of Representatives. Photo Courtesy of United States Government | Creative Commons https://tinyurl.com/5ec6ty97

Republican Mike Johnson was elected 56th speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives early Wednesday afternoon, becoming the first Louisiana representative to hold the position. 

Johnson’s election ends three weeks of uncertainty and stagnation in the House that followed the ousting of former speaker Kevin McCarthy. 

Since McCarthy’s departure from the speakership on Oct. 3 — a historically unprecedented move — House republicans have scrambled to decide and elect a new party candidate. 

Three previously nominated candidates failed to gain the 217 votes required for a House majority: Republican Jim Jordan of Ohio, Republican Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Republican Tom Emmer of Minnesota. 

Sharp divisions in the House, not only between Democrats and Republicans, but also between Republican factions, prevented a majority from successfully replacing the speaker. 

Republican representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, initiated the move to oust McCarthy. Gaetz is part of “The Freedom Caucus,” a hard-right faction of Trump loyalists. Lawmakers retaliated against the former speaker’s collaboration with House Democrats to pass a temporary funding bill that avoided a government shutdown.

But other divisions within the party stalled efforts to quickly find a new speaker.

Johnson, described by The New York Times as a “little-known Louisiana Republican,” is not the party’s first choice for the speaker, but the fourth. 

So who is Mike Johnson? 

Johnson has served Louisiana’s 4th district, home to almost 760,000 Louisianans, since his election in 2016.

In January 2021, Johnson was elected as vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, the organizational vehicle responsible for communicating the party’s message to its members. He was unanimously re-elected to the position in November 2022. Johnson served as deputy whip for the 118th Congress, a position that functions to count votes and align them with party ideology. He also served as chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the largest caucus of conservatives in Congress.

In December 2020, Johnson recruited House Republicans to sign a legal brief supporting a Texas lawsuit that attempted to discard election results in four states won by President Joe Biden. Media attention following his journey to the speakership emphasizes his role in subverting election results in favor of former President Donald Trump. 

Johnson comes off a socially conservative political history. He voted for a national abortion ban and co-sponsored a 20-week abortion ban, as well as introduced a bill to prohibit the use of federal funds for the provision of sex education to children under 10 that included LGBTQ+ topics. 

He also opposed legislation to mandate federal recognition for same-sex marriages, though the bill passed with bipartisan support in the House and Senate. 

Johnson’s full congressional voting record can be found here

Johnson is a Shreveport native and graduated with a degree in business administration from Louisiana State University in 1995. He earned his juris doctorate from LSU’s Paul M. Herbert Law Center in 1998. Johnson spent two decades practicing constitutional law prior to serving on Louisiana’s State Legislature from 2015 to 2017. 

In those years, Johnson sponsored anti-abortion bills and came close to passing legislation that would have granted legal protections to pastors who refused to conduct marriage ceremonies contrary to church doctrines. 

Johnson is recognized as a “leading defender of the right to life, religious liberty, free speech, the Second Amendment and free market principles,” according to his congressional website’s biography. He is closely tied to the Louisiana Family Forum, a Baton-Rouge-based conservative, Christian advocacy group. 

As speaker of the house, Johnson must quickly pass funding legislation to avoid a mid-November government shutdown. He must also lead foreign policy issues as the House debates approving President Biden’s request for billions of dollars in aid for ongoing conflicts in Israel and Ukraine.

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