Chaos Ends as GOP Elects New Speaker

( – The unprecedented removal of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on October 3 effectively paralyzed the lower chamber of Congress, leading to three weeks of legislative dysfunction. The process of electing a replacement has dragged on, but now it’s finally over and the House has a new speaker. But who is he, and how did we get here?

Republican Rebellion

Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) took office on January 7, but only after a grueling election process that ran to 15 rounds of voting before he finally gained a majority. The problem was that to reach that majority, he had to meet conditions from a small faction of his own party — and one of those conditions was that he created a new rule that would allow a single House member to trigger a vote on removing the speaker. On October 3, after the defeat of a government funding bill he’d introduced, that rule was turned against McCarthy. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) introduced a motion to remove him, then along with seven other Republicans voted with the Democrats to vacate the office. That left the House without a speaker until a new one could be elected.

The Replacement Search Saga

After McCarthy’s removal, Gaetz nominated Mike Johnson (R-LA) as the new Speaker, but Johnson said he didn’t want the job and backed Jim Jordan (R-OH) instead — although it seems he left his options open in case Jordan couldn’t get enough support. Steve Scalise (R-LA) was also a strong candidate, while some Republicans suggested former president Donald Trump.

Of course, things didn’t go to plan. Scalise quickly dropped out after failing to get enough votes on the first ballot. Jordan then tried three times to get past the 217-vote threshold; he gained 200 votes in the first ballot but then his support started to fall, and when it dipped to 194 votes at the October 20 vote he gave up.

The GOP then selected House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN), but within hours he was denounced by Trump and, realizing he couldn’t get enough votes, dropped out of the race. That left the road clear for Johnson, who re-entered the contest and, with Trump’s endorsement, was elected as the 56th House Speaker on October 25.

So Who Is Mike Johnson?

For a start, he’s the shortest-serving representative to ever become speaker; he entered the House in January 2017. Politically, he’s in the conservative Christian wing of the GOP and a loyal Trump supporter. If the former president returns to the White House next year, and Johnson can hold on to the speaker’s job until then, Trump will have a powerful ally in Congress to help with his legislative agenda.

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