1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Republicans elect Mike Johnson as House speaker

October 25, 2023

The US House of Representatives has a new speaker after Republicans elected religious conservative Mike Johnson to the post, vacant since hardliners voted out Kevin McCarthy on October 3.

US Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana, smiles after being elected speaker
Mike Johnson, who asked the Supreme Court to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, has been elected speaker by his GOP colleagues Image: NATHAN HOWARD/REUTERS

The US House of Representatives elected Mike Johnson of Louisiana as the speaker, replacing former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who was voted out of office by his colleagues on October 3.

Mike Johnson, a low-ranking House member was the latest nominee put forth by the Republican majority following failed bids by Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan and Tom Emmer.

Johnson, a 51-year-old religious conservative from Louisiana, was elected to the House in 2016 and has made few enemies in that time. Importantly for today's Republican Party, Johnson was also endorsed by the party's likely 2024 nominee for the presidency, Donald Trump.

Speaking to reporters before appearing in one of his myriad court cases, the former president said, "I think he's gonna be a fantastic speaker." Trump added that he hadn't heard, "one negative comment about him."

Who is Johnson?

Johnson, a constitutional lawyer, was a leading figure in the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 US presidential election, submitting an appeal to the Supreme Court asking justices to nullify the results of states that Donald Trump lost.

The first Louisianan ever elected speaker, Johnson is the least experienced lawmaker to ascend to the speakership in decades.

As a lawyer he championed conservative issues such as fighting for prayer in schools.

As a representative, he has been a stauch opponent of gender-related surgery and hormone treatment, called for stricter abortion and immigration laws, and sought to prohibit mask requirements on airplanes.

A chance to make good on his claim of being a bridge builder

Nominated late Tuesday evening, Johnson was officially put forth as a candidate before the entire body of the House by Elise Stefanik of New York.

Johnson was the first of the GOP's four candidates to pass the required threshold of 217 votes, garnering 220. Democrats were unanimous in casting their votes for Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. 

Government work in the US has come to a grinding halt since McCarthy's ouster, as Republicans, who hold a slim 221-212 majority in the lower chamber, were unable to find common ground on a candidate — with far-right hardliners refusing to vote for anyone willing to work with Democrats, and moderates shocked by the intransigence of those same hardliners.

As bipartisanship is a prerequisite for progress with Democrats in control the other two branches of government important — the Presidency and the Senate — the work of the government remains on ice with existential issues such as funding the US government, which is set to shutdown on November 17, and providing aid to allies Ukraine and Israel — both of which are currently at war — on hold.

Johnson, who bills himself as a bridge builder, will now have a little over three weeks to prove that claim before the so-called continuing resolution to fund the government expires on November 17.

US House Speaker McCarthy ousted in historic vote

js/wmr (AP, Reuters)