On Oct. 25, the U.S. House of Representatives elected Republican Mike Johnson as Speaker following three weeks that left the chamber unable to respond to the Middle East crisis or carry out any of its basic duties.
The 220 to 209 party-line vote elevated Johnson, who represents the state of Louisiana, to a leadership post that has been vacant since Kevin McCarthy was ousted on Oct. 3 by a group of more conservative Republicans.
“We want our allies around the world to know that this body of lawmakers are reporting again to our duty stations,” Johnson, 51, said shortly after winning the speaker’s gavel.
He said he would soon call up legislation to signal support for Israel, which has stepped up its bombings of Gaza following a cross-border killing and kidnapping spree by Hamas terrorists early this month.
First elected as Louisiana representative in 2016, Johnson will now be the 56th speaker of the United States House of Representatives. Johnson previously served as Chair of the Republican Study Committee from 2019 to 2021, and as Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference from 2021 to 2023.
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In a letter to colleagues, Johnson has vowed to advance overdue spending legislation and ensure that the U.S. government does not shut down when current funding expires on Nov. 17.
Johnson is known as a supporter of the Christian right and an ally of 45th U.S. President Donald Trump, who despite multiple legal cases against him is the most popular contender for the Republican ticket in the 2024 presidential election.
Terry Schilling of the D.C.-based American Principles Project described the new Speaker as “a stalwart conservative and pro-family champion during his time in the House,” conservative news site LifeSiteNews reported.
In his speech, Johnson said he would prioritize border security and would establish a bipartisan commission to examine ways to tackle the $33 trillion national debt.
He will also have to respond to Democratic President Joe Biden’s $106 billion spending request for aid to Israel, Ukraine and U.S. border security. While his Republicans broadly support funding for Israel and securing the U.S. border, they are divided over further support for Ukraine, which has struggled to retake lost territory in its counteroffensive against Russian forces.
Reuters contributed to this report.