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By Melissa Quinn, Kathryn Watson, Nikole Killion, Caitlin Yilek, Caroline Linton
/ CBS News
Washington — , a Republican of Louisiana, won election as the new speaker of the House on Wednesday, ending three weeks of chaos since Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s historic ouster.
Johnson, a little-known lawmaker who is now second in line for the presidency, attracted the support of all 220 Republican members in attendance, surpassing the 215-vote total that was required to win. All 209 Democrats voted for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the party’s House leader.
“The people’s House is back in business,” Johnson told colleagues before being sworn in.
Johnson was the party’s fourth nominee for speaker in three weeks, having taken the place of Rep. Tom Emmer, whose candidacy lasted all of four hours on Tuesday. Two other previous candidates, Reps. Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan, withdrew their names from consideration earlier in the process after failing to unite the party’s various factions.
The new speaker has been in Congress since 2017 and has no experience in the House leadership. He for passing a series of government spending bills earlier in the week that attracted support from some of McCarthy’s detractors, and his broad support among the Republican conference was a signal of lawmakers’ desire to move past the divisive speaker fight and reopen the House.
Johnson now faces a daunting list of challenges, with a fast-approaching government shutdown chief among them. The House is staring down a deadline of Nov. 17, when current government funding expires. In his blueprint for the next few months, Johnson said a stopgap measure extending funding until January or April may be needed to approve more spending and avoid a shutdown.
Speaking after the vote, Johnson vowed to hit the ground running and get the House back to work. A government shutdown is fast approaching, and the White House has requested a $106 billion emergency aid package for Israel, Ukraine and other priorities.
“We’re going to dispense with all the usual ceremonies and celebrations that traditionally follow a new speakership because we have no time for either one,” Johnson said. “The American people’s business is too urgent in this moment. The hour is late. The crisis is great.”
Johnson has laid out a tentative legislative schedule to approve new spending and take up other pieces of legislation, but things could change quickly as he confronts the realities of governing, especially given the fractious nature of the Republican conference.
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In a statement distributed by the White House, President Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden extended their congratulations to Johnson, and the president reiterated his commitment to working with him “in good faith” for the American people.
By the same token, Mr. Biden noted that the nation expects House Republicans to work across the aisle with him and Senate Democrats to address “urgent” national security needs and grow the economy.
“We need to move swiftly to address our national security needs and to avoid a shutdown in 22 days. Even though we have real disagreements about important issues, there should be mutual effort to find common ground wherever we can,” the president said. “This is a time for all of us to act responsibly, and to put the good of the American people and the everyday priorities of American families above any partisanship.”
Mr. Biden spoke to Johnson on the phone a short time later, the White House said, to offer his congratulations and express “that he looks forward to working together to find common ground on behalf of the American people.”
Johnson declared the House in recess after he completed procedural tasks associated with his new position as speaker.
“We’ll be back soon,” he said.
A vote on the resolution denouncing Hamas and supporting Israel is scheduled to begin between 3:35 p.m. and 3:55 p.m.
Johnson was sworn in as the 56th House speaker soon after winning the vote and delivering a speech to lawmakers in the House chamber.
“The challenge before us is great, but the time for action is now and I will not let you down,” Johnson said.
“I want to say to the American people on behalf of all of us here, we hear you. We know the challenges you’re facing. We know that there’s a lot going on in our country, domestically and abroad, and we’re ready to get to work again to solve those problems and we will,” he said. “Our mission here is to serve you well, to restore the people’s faith in this House in this great and essential institution.”
Johnson also acknowledged that the chaos of the last three weeks has chipped away at Americans’ confidence in the lower chamber.
“I think all the American people at one time had great pride in this institution, but right now that’s in jeopardy,” he said. “And we have a challenge before us right now to rebuild and restore that trust.”
Johnson listed a number of his priorities, including border security, cutting federal spending and establishing a bipartisan debt commission “immediately.”
“The people’s House is back in business,” Johnson said.
Jeffries, the Democratic leader, presented him with the gavel, calling him a “family man, a hardworking man, a Baptist man, a Southern man, a son of a firefighter’s household.”
Johnson said he looked forward to working with Jeffries despite their differences.
“I know that in your heart you love and care about this country and you want to do what’s right and so we’re going to find common ground,” Johnson said.
He also thanked McCarthy, giving the former speaker credit for Republicans having the majority.
Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky administered the oath of office.
“Would you all like to get right into governing?” Johnson asked after taking the oath.
The first order of business for the House under the new speaker is to consider a resolution from Texas Rep. Mike McCaul “standing with Israel as it defends itself against the barbaric war launched by Hamas and other terrorists.”
“We’re overdue in getting that done,” Johnson said in brief remarks before he was sworn in as speaker.
The four-page resolution reaffirms that Israel has a right to self-defense and condemns Hamas’ attacks. It also calls for all countries to “unequivocally condemn Hamas’ brutal war against Israel” and for the militant group to “immediately cease these violent attacks and safely release all living hostages and return the bodies of deceased hostages.”
McCaul’s measure goes on to declare that the House “stands ready to assist Israel with emergency resupply and other security, diplomatic and intelligence support.”
Johnson returned to the House to applause from those in the chamber, and McHenry called the House back into order.
The Democratic leader then took his place at the dais and delivered a speech cheering the work of House Democrats so far this Congress, while decrying the dysfunction that gripped the House over the last three weeks.
“From the very beginning of this Congress, House Democrats have made clear that we will find bipartisan common ground with our Republican colleagues wherever and whenever possible for the good of the American people, and House Democrats have repeatedly done just that,” Jeffries said.
He noted that Democrats provided support for legislation to raise the debt ceiling, avoid a government shutdown and provide disaster relief funding.
“From the very beginning of this Congress, House Democrats have been governing for the people,” Jeffries said. “We continue to look forward to finding bipartisan common ground whenever and wherever possible.”
The New York Democrat pledged his party will back Mr. Biden as he works to free hostages held by Hamas.
“Our commitment to Israel’s security is ironclad and Israel has a right to defend itself under the international rules of war against the brutal terror unleashed on its citizens by Hamas,” Jeffries said.
The Democratic leader also vowed that his party will continue to support Ukraine to defeat Russia’s aggression.
“There are only two paths in front of us: We can either stand up for Ukraine or bow down to Vladimir Putin. That is not a difficult choice,” he said. “We must stand up for America’s national security, we must stand up for democracy, we must stand up for freedom, we must stand up for truth, we must stand up for the Ukrainian people until victory is won.”
Jeffries urged swift action on a package to provide aid to Israel, Ukraine and other U.S. allies, which the White House has requested.
“The House of Representatives should take up this national security package and humanitarian relief package immediately, in totality and without delay,” he said. “The time for gamesmanship is over. The time for brinkmanship is over. The time for partisanship is over. It’s time to get back to doing the business of the American people.”
Jeffries closed his remarks declaring, “Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election. He’s doing a great job under difficult circumstances and no amount of election denialism will ever change that reality. Not now. Not ever.”
The comment was a reference to Johnson’s work to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
“There are many throughout this country who are understandably alarmed at the turbulence of the moment, at the chaos, the dysfunction and the extremism that has been unleashed in this chamber from the very beginning of this Congress,” he said. “But this, too, shall pass.”
In a with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the White House, President Biden welcomed news of Johnson’s election. “We have to get moving,” he said.
Asked if he was worried Johnson might attempt to overturn the results of the 2024 election, Mr. Biden said he wasn’t.
Before the vote in the House, Johnson said he had not spoken to the president, but said he assumed he would soon.
Johnson won the speaker’s gavel in a single round of voting, with the support of all Republicans in attendance.
He was the first candidate since McCarthy’s ouster to face no opposition from his own party.
“Therefore, the Honorable Mike Johnson of the state of Louisiana, having received a majority of the votes cast, is duly elected speaker of the House of Representatives for the 118th Congress,” McHenry, the interim speaker, announced after reading the final vote tally.
Shortly after 1 p.m., the House began voting for speaker, with Johnson as the Republican nominee and Jeffries as the Democratic nominee.
The trajectory of the vote is not yet clear.
Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, chairman of the Democratic caucus, rose to nominate Jeffries for speaker and accused Republicans of manufacturing a crisis that has lasted 22 days.
He accused GOP lawmakers of working to find a candidate for speaker who can pass their “extreme litmus test” opposing marriage equality, cutting Social Security and Medicare, and enacting nationwide restrictions on abortion.
“This has been about who can appease Donald Trump,” Aguilar said.
The California Democrat noted Johnson’s role in the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
“House Democrats believe that when members of the body voted to reject the results of the 2020 election, they forfeited their ability to lead this chamber,” Aguilar said.
Turning to Jeffries, Aguilar said the Democratic leader has “never turned his back on the will of the American people.”
“He is certainly a far contrast from who Republicans have nominated,” he said, adding. “End the chaos. End the dysfunction. End extremism. Let’s open up the People’s House.”
There are a total of 429 House members in attendance for the vote: 220 Republicans, and 209 Democrats. GOP Rep. Derrick Van Orden of Wisconsin, who appears to be in Israel, is absent, as are three Democrats.
The four absences mean Johnson will need 215 votes to win the speakership if all members in the chamber vote for a candidate.
Stefanik then rose to deliver a floor speech nominating Johnson for speaker, as Republicans chanted “Mike, Mike, Mike!”
“Today is the day that House Republicans will humbly look in our hearts and elect Mike Johnson as speaker of the People’s House,” she said.
Stefanik praised Johnson as a “man of deep faith” who is a “titan” on the Judiciary Committee and “dedicated member” of the Armed Services Committee. She said that as vice chair of the Republican Conference, Johnson has “united all of our members to speak clearly and boldly on behalf of the American people.”
Stefanik called Johnson “a friend to all” and “an enemy to none,” who is not only “strong, tough and fair,” but also “kind.”
“House Republicans and Speaker Mike Johnson will never give up,” she said. “Today is the day we get this done.”
Johnson claimed to reporters that he’s never opposed funding or aid for Ukraine.
“We’ll be talking about the support and what’s necessary to get it,” Johnson said. “We have to ensure Vladimir Putin is not successful, and I think all the House Republicans are united in that cause.”
But Johnson’s record on Ukraine funding has been criticized by Ukraine advocates. Johnson received an “F” grade from Republicans for Ukraine on its GOP Congressional Report Card. Johnson did vote for the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022.
But last month, he voted for a Rep. Matt Gaetz amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have cut off all security assistance for Ukraine. That amendment failed, 93-339, with a majority of Republicans voting against the amendment.
Last month, he also voted against $300 million in new aid for Ukraine. The aid passed the House, 311-117.
The House was brought into session just after 12 p.m. ET. All members will now record their presence on the floor to determine how many are in attendance.
If all 221 Republicans and 212 Democrats mark themselves present, Johnson will need 217 votes to win the gavel. Two seats are vacant due to the resignations of Reps. Chris Stewart, a Republican from Utah, and David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island.
As Johnson made his way from his House office to the floor, he told CBS News that he “feels very good” about the vote and believes he can secure the necessary 217 votes on the first round.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, the chair of the House Republican conference, will deliver the speech nominating Johnson for speaker, according to a Republican aide.
Democrats will nominate Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and they are being urged to vote for him, according to a notice from Democratic whip Katherine Clark’s office. Rep. Pete Aguilar , the Democratic caucus chair, will deliver the nominating speech for Jeffries.
GOP lawmakers who withheld their support for Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio during his three rounds of voting on the House floor are beginning to line up behind Johnson.
Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas, who voted for Majority Leader Steve Scalise on each of the three ballots during House voting last week, said he plans to back Johnson when the lower chamber convenes to elect a new speaker.
“Mike Johnson and I both represent two of the poorest districts in the country, but the richest in the values held by the great people of #TX23 & #LA04. I look forward to working with him to help SECURE the southern border as OUR next Speaker of the US House,” he wrote on social media.
Rep. Carlos Giménez of Florida, who supported McCarthy over Jordan, called Johnson a “straightforward leader” who can unite the Republican conference in a post to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. Gimenez, former chief of the City of Miami Fire Department, highlighted that both Johnson and McCarthy are the sons of firefighters.
Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, another Scalise supporter, told reporters after Johnson was elected speaker-designate that he believes Republicans are “back” and the conference’s agenda “back on track.”
“I think you’re going to see that we’re back at full strength. We’re energized, unified and I think that’s a positive thing for the country,” he said.
Johnson, a former litigator with experience in constitutional law, led an amicus brief filed by House Republicans to the Supreme Court that backed a to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in four states Trump lost: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The brief claimed that the officials and courts in each of the battleground states unconstitutionally usurped the power granted to state legislators by changing election rules in 2020.
“Due in large part to those usurpations, the election of 2020 has been riddled with an unprecedented number of serious allegations of fraud and irregularities,” the House Republicans alleged.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had asked the Supreme Court to block “the use of unlawful election results without review and ratification by” the four state legislatures and allow them to appoint a different slate of presidential electors.
The Supreme Court because Texas lacked legal standing.
Late Tuesday after Johnson won the speaker nomination, a reporter asked Johnson about his push to overturn the results of the 2020 election, but Republicans replied with shouts of “boo.” Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina yelled “shut up, shut up!”
Former President Donald Trump posted on Truth Social, his social media site, early Wednesday to urge House Republicans to back Johnson for speaker, less than a day after he effectively derailed Majority Whip Tom Emmer’s own bid for the gavel.
Trump praised the five Republicans who declared their candidacies after Emmer withdrew his nomination — Reps. Byron Donalds of Florida, Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee, Mark Green of Tennessee, Roger Williams of Texas and Johnson — and said he could “never go against any of these fine and very talented men.”
The former president noted that all of them have supported him “in both mind and spirit” since he won the White House in 2016 and said the five candidates “are beyond reproach and represent the absolute best there is in the Republican Party.”
“My strong SUGGESTION is to go with the leading candidate, Mike Johnson, & GET IT DONE, FAST!” he wrote.
As House Republicans gathered earlier in the week to select their third nominee for speaker, Trump of the race. But hours after Emmer won the nod in a closed-door vote by the conference Tuesday morning, the former president lambasted the Minnesota Republican, writing on Truth Social that “voting for a Globalist RINO like Tom Emmer would be a tragic mistake.”
Emmer began to lose support from conservative lawmakers shortly after Trump’s missive, and he bowed out of the contest shortly after.
Trump seemed to acknowledge his role in killing Emmer’s quest for the gavel, as he shared on his social media platform an article from Politico about how the former president “torpedoed” the bid.
Majority Leader Steve Scalise threw his support behind Johnson late Tuesday, calling him a “dear friend” in a statement.
“Mike is a strong leader who has the full support of our entire conference, and has a proven track record as a conservative leader who will fight for the American people against President Biden’s radical agenda that is crushing hard-working families,” Scalise said in the statement.
Scalise had been the party’s first nominee after McCarthy was ousted, but withdrew his name one day after winning the internal GOP vote.
Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana won in a three-round vote late Tuesday to become the next speaker-designee — the fourth since Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California was ousted from the position on Oct. 3.
Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee was eliminated in the first vote. In the second round, Roger Williams of Texas was eliminated and Mark Green of Tennessee dropped out.
The final round came down to Johnson and Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida. Although Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was not in the running, he received more votes than Donalds in the final round.
Johnson won 128 votes, and Donalds received 29 votes, and there was a vote of “present.” McCarthy, who was not a nominee, received 43 votes.
Republicans held a candidate forum Tuesday night with five members vying to be the next speaker-designee after Emmer withdrew.
The candidates were Reps. Byron Donalds of Florida, Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee, Mark Green of Tennessee, Mike Johnson of Louisiana and Roger Williams of Texas.
Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Hern, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, was initially included, but dropped out before voting began.
Trump took to Truth Social Tuesday afternoon to blast Emmer as a “RINO” and a “globalist” who “fought” Trump all the way.
Emmer voted to certify the 2020 election results after , but signed onto an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn the presidential election results.
“I have many wonderful friends wanting to be Speaker of the House, and some are truly great Warriors. RINO Tom Emmer, who I do not know well, is not one of them,” Trump wrote. “He never respected the Power of a Trump Endorsement, or the breadth and scope of MAGA—MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
“He fought me all the way, and actually spent more time defending Ilhan Omar, than he did me—He is totally out-of-touch with Republican Voters,” Trump continued. “I believe he has now learned his lesson, because he is saying that he is Pro-Trump all the way, but who can ever be sure? Has he only changed because that’s what it takes to win? The Republican Party cannot take that chance, because that’s not where the America First Voters are. Voting for a Globalist RINO like Tom Emmer would be a tragic mistake!”
Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota declined Tuesday to say whether former President Donald Trump was a factor in his decision to end his bid for the speakership.
“I made my decision based on my relationship with the conference,” Emmer told reporters when asked whether Trump helped doom his candidacy.
Trump lashed out at Emmer after he won the nomination, accusing him of being out of touch with GOP voters and calling a vote for him a “tragic mistake.”
Emmer said he would support whomever the candidate is.
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