House Republicans have selected Rep. Mike Johnson as their next speaker nominee despite his only securing about half the votes needed in a secret ballot – the latest sign they may again fail to agree on a speaker after Kevin McCarthy’s historic ouster.
The Louisiana Republican is the party’s fourth choice for a speaker nominee in just three weeks, and the second in the same day.
The week before, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer stunned onlookers when he suddenly dropped out of the running – a move that came hours after GOP frontrunner Donald Trump slammed him for not being a fan.
Johnson, a man considered to be well-liked in the chamber, scored a outsized victory with 128 votes in a secret ballot – 99 more than next-best Byron Donalds. However, the win was bittersweet, as still fell short of the 217 votes needed for the seat.
As Republicans scramble to find a new leader, the rest Congress remains paralyzed. Late Tuesday, despite his lack of votes, Johnson said his party was ‘ready to govern’ as members rallied around him.
Louisiana Republican Rep. Mike Johnson is the party’s fourth choice for a speaker nominee, winning 128 votes in an internal conference ballot
‘Democracy is messy sometimes, but it is our system,’ Johnson said, flanked by members of the House.
‘This conference that you see – this House Republican Majority – is united,’ he went on to declare – an assertion that was met with uproarious applause.
The 51-year-old rep added: I’m honored to have the support of my colleagues, and what they understand about this, is that this is servant leadership. We are going to serve the people of this county.’
As he left the chamber, he told reporters that he is ‘very confident’ he can get the amount of votes needed on the House floor Wednesday to secure a win – with him still serving as conservatives’ best bet for a new Republican speaker.
‘He’s who we needed all along,’ said Rep. Bob Good, R-Va, citing Johnson’s lack of political enemies.
Aside from the win for Johnson, the ‘secret’ vote saw Florida rep Donalds, 44, obtain 29 votes, while forty-four votes went to candidates who weren’t even in the running.
Those votes – 43 for former speaker McCarthy and one for Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan – like serve as Johnson’s only hope to garner the position, as well as some help from voters who picked figures from the rest of the field.
Figures in that category include Oklahoma’s Kevin Hern, Tennessee’s Chuck Fleischmann and Mark Green, and Texas’s Roger Williams – all of whom have failed to come close to votes won by the most recent House speaker designee.
On Tuesday, following his win on the secret ballot, Johnson survived a key roll-call vote gave him some hope he might still steal the Speaker seat – after his lack of support behind closed doors seemed to suggest his bid was for naught.
The roll-call vote, also held in private, saw several GOP members who had been opposed to Johnson’s bid earlier in the day vote ‘present’ – meaning that they chose to pass on answering the question at hand.
There were three present votes and 22 members not voting – spurring an optimisitic Johnson to tell reporters he would be speaking with those who voted present ahead of the actual vote, slated for Wednesday
‘I’ll be working with them tonight,’ he told reporters ahead of the anticipated procession on the House floor – where he can only afford to lose four Republican votes in his quest to become the speaker.
Freedom Caucus-aligned right-wing Republicans praised Johnson on the way out of a vote for his nomination – as did moderates aligned with former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Criticisms that have been floated – but have not come up widely – for Johnson include that putting him in the speakership would give Louisiana two leadership spots, together with Majority Leader Steve Scalise.
They could also include his conservative voting record and the fact that he led an amicus brief signed by more than 100 Republicans to a Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Johnson’s nomination came as one idea circulating among Republicans was a joint speakership between former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and failed speaker nominee Jordan.
Some Republicans balked at the idea.
‘It does not exist in the Constitution,’ said McCarthy supporter Rep. John Duarte, R-Calif.
‘It’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard,’ said Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas.
House Republicans reached another new low on Tuesday as their latest nominee for speaker lasted just four hours – after Donald Trump called him a ‘Globalist RINO.’
Majority Whip Tom Emmer became the latest victim of the Congressional GOP clown show as he withdrew from the running and upended the party’s bid to install a speaker after 21 days.
The former hockey coach beat eight candidates to win the support of the majority of the conference in a closed-door ballot, but just hours later he was out.
There is still no end in sight to the farce that began three weeks ago when eight rebel Republicans ousted Kevin McCarthy in a historic vote.
Although he was elected the nominee earlier Tuesday, Emmer did not have enough support from fellow Republicans to get to the 217 votes needed for victory on the House floor. Twenty-six GOP lawmakers said they would not vote for him – well over the four he could afford to lose.
And his downfall was solidified after he was targeted by Donald Trump on Truth Social.
Emmer’s downfall was solidified after he was targeted by Donald Trump on Truth Social
Trump has been in court Tuesday for his civil fraud trial at the New York State Supreme Court
‘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 on Truth Social.
‘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.’
Emmer has called his fellow Minnesotan Omar ‘the face of antisemitism in the Democrat Party.’
Trump went on: ‘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!
A Trump ally told DailyMail.com that Emmer’s vote in favor of the Equality Act – supporting gay marriage – is considered a ‘slippery slope’ for social conservatives concerned about the rise of men competing in women’s sports and other issues.
He also voted to certify the 2020 election – which contributed to some ‘never-Emmer’ votes.
Just one day ago Trump said at an event in New Hampshire he has ‘always gotten along’ with Emmer.
The 26 Republicans who voted against Emmer were largely from the Trump-aligned, far-right Freedom Caucus. But Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., the infamous McCarthy ouster and staunch Trump supporter, had been pushing Emmer’s candidacy.
He appeared to change his tune after Trump’s cry to tank Emmer’s bid.
‘It’s really important that the Speaker of the House have a good relationship with the leader of our party, That’s Donald Trump,’ said Gaetz later Tuesday.
Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., who ran against Emmer for whip, also tore into the Minnesota Republican after the vote, calling him the ‘single most liberal member of leadership.’
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., slammed Emmer on X after Trump’s post.
Former President Donald Trump came out against Emmer in a Truth Social post while he was in court in NYC
Emmer’s nomination came after 21 days without a House speaker
Emmer’s chances for victory were foiled by members of the far-right caucus
‘Today I voted against Tom Emmer on all rounds of voting including the spoken roll call vote because he has a voting record I can’t support,’ she said.
‘He voted for Democrat gay marriage bill, voted with Democrats to overturn President Trump’s transgender military ban, voted for every penny of Ukraine funding, at one time supported the Soros national popular vote scheme, and voted to certify Biden’s 2020 election.’
Emmer’s decision to drop out comes after 21 days without a House speaker.
Reps. Kevin Hern, R-Ala., and Mike Johnson, R-La., have already stated their intention to be reconsidered for the speaker position. They ran and lost against Emmer earlier Tuesday.
Earlier this month, Gaetz launched a successful motion to vacate where eight Republicans voted with all Democrats to oust McCarthy.
On Monday Republicans started with nine declared candidates, but whittled the pack down until Emmer captured 117 votes – more than the 110 votes needed to secure the majority – beating out GOP Conference Vice Chair Mike Johnson, R-La., who got 97, to become the speaker-designee. Five votes went to ‘other’ candidates and one lawmaker voted ‘present.’