West Side Story

The Student News Site of Wyoming Valley West High School

The Student News Site of Wyoming Valley West High School

West Side Story

The Student News Site of Wyoming Valley West High School

West Side Story

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Three Weeks and a Day Later

Republicans chose a Speaker, but remain fractured
Francis Chung/Politico
Republican Congressman Mike Johnson (center) at a press conference before the vote for Speaker.

On Oct. 20, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives chose to abandon Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) as their nominee for Speaker of the House after three failed ballots on the House floor.

A few days later, nine Republican congressmen filed to be on the secret ballot for the caucus’s nomination election; two dropped out before the vote.

This would be Republicans’ third nomination election since Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was voted out of his role on Oct. 3.

The first ballot named Congressman Steve Scalise (R-La.) as the nominee, but he dropped out the day after being nominated after failing to garner enough support from his own party.

The second ballot nominated Jordan, but the controversial ultraconservative proved unelectable during the Speaker election before the entire House. A sizable group of Republicans opposed Jordan being elected Speaker, and their numbers grew with every ballot.

The nomination election on Oct. 24 took five ballots before House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) was chosen as the nominee. Because of the volume of candidates, several ballots were needed to eliminate the last place candidates before Emmer won a simple majority of votes.

However, much like Scalise, Emmer struggled to get backing from 217 Republicans needed to win the Speaker vote before the entire House. 

Many right-wing members of the Republican caucus opposed Emmer being Speaker because they deemed him too moderate.

Emmer voted to codify same-sex marriage and to certify the 2020 presidential election, positions ultraconservative Republicans heavily disagree with. 

Allies of former President Donald Trump specifically took issue with Emmer because of his vote to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election in the face of Trump’s false claims of a rigged election.

In the face of opposition from around two dozen Republican congressmen and former President Trump himself, who called Emmer “totally out-of-touch with Republican Voters,” Emmer dropped out of the Speaker race hours after winning the nomination.

Without a nominee, Republicans hurriedly put together another nomination vote, featuring five congressmen seeking to be the fourth Republican nominee since Kevin McCarthy’s ouster.

Congressman Mike Johnson (R-La.), who previously came in second to Emmer, won the nomination after three ballots late into the night on Oct. 24.

The next day, Oct. 25, Johnson won the Speaker election with unanimous support from Republicans, 220 votes in total.

Johnson’s success was somewhat of a surprise and a relief. The House had been without a Speaker for 22 days.

Despite the unanimity of the Republican caucus in voting in Johnson, the Republican caucus remains divided.

Before becoming Speaker, Johnson was not well known, even inside of Congress. He has never held a major leadership position, and has only been in Congress since 2017.

Johnson’s under the radar reputation and mild mannered temperament may also be reasons why he was elected after only one ballot on the House floor, when Scalise and Emmer were denied votes, and Jordan steadily lost support through all three ballots.

Johnson comes from the same ultraconservative wing of the party as Jordan, but doesn’t have the same public reputation as Jordan. Yet Johnson was able to win the support of moderates Jordan could not.

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Colo.) voted for Johnson, but consistently voted against Jordan. At the time, Buck said that he would not vote for Jordan because Jordan supported efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. But Johnson also supported such efforts, and played a leading role in failed legal challenges meant to change the results in favor of Trump.

Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) also voiced strong support for Johnson. However Johnson has talked about passing another temporary government funding bill, much like the one which caused Gaetz to initiate the vote to oust McCarthy.

Ultimately Johnson’s relatively unknown reputation and the sheer exhaustion of a fractured Republican caucus played a role in his rise to Speaker. 

Up next, Speaker Johnson will have to negotiate the passage of bills that have divided his own party and earned the ire of Democrats who want to see the bills passed.

Aside from the bill to fund the federal government, bills to provide military aid to Israel and Ukraine during their respective wars will soon make their way to the House.

The combined weapons package to both countries is supported by President Joe Biden, and would be likely to pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate. While Johnson supports aid to Israel, he has been critical of continued military aid to Ukraine.  

Now with a Speaker, the House will get back to work after being essentially paralyzed the equivalent of three weeks plus a day amidst a divided ruling party and a larger world in constant crisis.

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