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Mike Johnson elected House speaker, putting Louisiana Republican in the spotlight


Republican Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana was elected speaker of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, ending a three-week leadership crisis that has paralyzed Congress.

Vice chairman of the House Republican conference and a hard-right conservative, Johnson had maintained a low public profile until he was thrust into the spotlight this week after securing the party’s nomination for speaker.

All 220 Republicans who cast a ballot voted for Johnson — despite his being the fourth nominee tapped by the GOP conference in two weeks as the deeply divided party repeatedly failed to put forward a candidate who had enough support.

In an address to Congress after his election, Johnson said the first bill he would bring to the House floor is a resolution expressing solidarity with Israel in its war against Hamas.

“We are going to show not only Israel but the entire world that the barbarism of Hamas that we have seen play out on our television screens is wretched and wrong,” Johnson said.

“We want our allies around the world to know that this body of lawmakers is reporting again to our duty stations,” the Louisianan said. “Let the enemies of freedom around the world hear us loud and clear: The people’s house is back in business.”

All 209 Democrats who voted Wednesday cast their ballot for Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.

President Joe Biden called Johnson to congratulate the speaker and said he looks forward to working together to find common ground, according to the White House.

Johnson managed to rally the GOP conference behind his bid after recalcitrant Republicans rejected the three previous nominees — House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota.

Johnson’s bid received a boost Wednesday from former President Donald Trump, who encouraged Republicans to vote for the Louisianan.

He also consolidated the backing of several moderate New York Republicans who had been reluctant to support some of the more hardline conservatives who sought the top job.

Johnson, who is serving his fourth term in Congress, will wield the gavel as America faces a looming government shutdown, Israel wages war on Hamas, and Ukraine struggles to beat back Russia’s invasion.

The House needs to pass spending legislation by Nov. 17 to keep the government running, and Biden has called on Congress to approve emergency security assistance for Israel and Ukraine.

Johnson told Republicans in a letter Monday that he would propose a temporary measure to fund the government through Jan. 15 or April 15, as the House works to pass the 12 appropriation bills needed to keep federal agencies running through the entire fiscal year.

Johnson voted against legislation in September that has kept the government running through November, and he has opposed assistance for Ukraine in the past. The Louisiana Republican said earlier this month that the House needs to take all necessary action to help Israel destroy Hamas.

Johnson is a staunch social conservative who participated in Republican efforts to overturn Biden’s 2020 election victory.

He filed a legal brief in support of a lawsuit that sought to block the certification of Biden’s victories in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Johnson then supported objections in Congress to the certification of Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s 2020 presidential results.

Johnson also served on Trump’s legal team during the former president’s first impeachment.

He previously did legal work for the Alliance Defending Freedom, an ultraconservative advocacy group that litigates to restrict abortion access and prohibit same-sex marriage.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that Johnson did legal work for the Alliance Defending Freedom. A previous version misstated the organization’s name.

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