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Who is new House Speaker Mike Johnson?

Republicans united behind Rep. Mike Johnson, who became House Speaker on Wednesday after the GOP ousted Rep. Kevin McCarthy three weeks ago.
Who is House speaker-designee Mike Johnson?
Posted at 11:01 AM, Oct 25, 2023

Rep. Mike Johnson was vaulted into national prominence on Tuesday after Republicans named him their newest speaker-designee as the party sought to end a three-week impasse that largely shuttered the House. 

On Wednesday, the Republican caucus united behind Johnson to elect him speaker after multiple other attempts to find a speaker over the last three weeks failed.

Unlike several of the previous speaker-designees, such as Reps. Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan, Johnson didn't have widespread name recognition. But he has been a central figure in House Republican politics in recent years.

He assumed the role of vice chair of the House Republican Conference in 2021, essentially serving as the fifth-highest-ranked Republican in the House. 

He also previously chaired the Republican Study Commission from 2019-21, which generally caucuses the party's most conservative members to advance legislative priorities. The role has been a stepping stone for other prominent representatives, including Scalise, Jordan and eventual Vice President Mike Pence. 

Johnson was first elected to Congress in 2016, representing Louisiana, and easily won reelection bids in 2018 and 2020. In 2022, Johnson ran unopposed. 

Prior to his tenure in the U.S. House, he served two years in the Louisiana House of Representatives. 

SEE MORE: GOP nominates Mike Johnson for House speaker now that Emmer's out

According to his congressional biography, he earned his law degree from LSU in 1998. 

His congressional biography says Johnson "has devoted his life and career to fighting for the fundamental freedoms and traditional values that have always been a priority to the people of Louisiana. Mike spent nearly 20 years successfully litigating high profile constitutional law cases in district and appellate courts nationwide and is widely recognized as a leading defender of the right to life, religious liberty, free speech, the Second Amendment and free market principles."

Among his most notable positions, Johnson has voted against aid for Ukraine. Providing military aid for Ukraine has generally gotten wide bipartisan support, but there have been signs of diminishing support for helping Ukraine in recent months. 

"We should not be sending another $40 billion abroad when our own border is in chaos, American mothers are struggling to find baby formula, gas prices are at record highs, and American families are struggling to make ends meet, without sufficient oversight over where the money will go," Johnson told the Shreveport Times in May 2022, three months after Russia started its invasion of Ukraine.

Johnson was also among the Republicans who voted against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

"We understand that our support of objections in the joint session may not be sustained by a majority of both houses of Congress. Our oath, nonetheless, is to 'support and defend the Constitution of the United States,' and to 'bear true faith and allegiance to the same.' Taking this action today will not undermine our beleaguered institutions, as some critics charge, but rather reinforce and defend them," Johnson said in a joint statement with 36 other Republicans on Jan. 6, 2021.

Johnson, an evangelical Christian, has avidly supported school prayer. 

He also called for the ending of all COVID-19 vaccine mandates placed on health care workers. 

With Democrats united behind Rep. Hakeem Jeffries as their leader, it took a nearly united GOP caucus to name Johnson speaker. He ended up with 220 votes, three more than needed to become speaker.

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