Thursday June 20, 2024

Johnson elected new U.S. House speaker after weeks of chaos

Published : 26 Oct 2023, 02:40

  DF News Desk
Newly-elected U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson takes the oath of office in the House Chamber in Washington, D.C., the United States, on Oct. 25, 2023. Photo: Xinhua by Aaron Schwartz.

Louisiana Republican Rep. Mike Johnson, vice chairman of the U.S. House Republican conference, was elected the new House speaker in a full chamber vote Wednesday, bringing weeks of chaos to a momentary halt as Republicans struggled to find a replacement after the historical ouster of Kevin McCarthy, reported Xinhua.

Johnson, the fourth Republican nominee, won the gavel by a vote of 220-209, with unanimous Republican support.

Previous nominees -- House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the House of Representatives, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jim Jordan, and House Majority Whip Tom Emmer -- all failed to garner enough Republican votes needed to reach the majority threshold.

On Tuesday, McCarthy said his party was in "a very bad place" as certain lawmakers continued to hold out against backing the nominee for speaker.

Johnson, considered a conservative in the party, managed to win votes both from right-wing conservatives who criticized McCarthy, and from moderates who opposed hardline conservative Jordan.

Calling him "a relatively inexperienced speaker," NBC News said Johnson had a shorter length of service in the House than past speakers in modern history, with fewer than seven years under his belt. McCarthy, for example, was in the House for 16 years before being elected speaker.

The House has been leaderless for three weeks, after McCarthy was unprecedentedly removed from his position on Oct. 3, in a move initiated by a conservative member of his own party. Eight Republicans voted with Democrats in the historical ouster.

The House has never been speakerless for so long mid-session, The Washington Post said in a recent analysis, noting that he House was already operating at an unusually unproductive pace.

YouGov's recent polling for the Economist suggested that Americans think the lack of a speaker and the struggle to elect a replacement is hurting the ability of the government to function.

Lawmakers need to pass a spending bill before government funding runs out in mid-November. The House is also under pressure to take action amid the escalating Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Weeks of chaos shows that moderates and right-wing conservatives within the Republican Party find it extremely difficult to reach an agreement on the way forward, and the intraparty fight could continue to paralyze the lower chamber even with a speaker in place.