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Mike Johnson elected new speaker of US House of Representatives

Washington: Republican Congressman from Louisiana Mike Johnson has been elected as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, bringing an end to three weeks of uncertainty in US politics.

The position of Speaker of the House of Representatives is one of the most powerful political chairs in the country and is third in the line of succession after the US President.

Johnson on Wednesday was elected by 220 to 209 votes in a bitterly divided Congress, three weeks after his predecessor Kevin McCarthy was unceremoniously voted out of the seat for the first time in US history. In the 435-member House, the Republicans hold a slender majority with 221 seats against 212 of the Democrats.

The 56th Speaker of the House of Representatives, Johnson, 51, a lawyer by profession, is a four-term Congressman from the Fourth Congressional District of Louisiana.

In his maiden address to the Congress, Speaker Johnson said his first legislative agenda would be to bring a resolution in support of Israel, a country that was hit by a terrorist attack by Hamas early this month.

“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,’ he said.

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

However, his main challenge at hand would be to avoid a government shutdown by passing the spending bill and approving the $100 billion request by President Joe Biden to fund the war in Israel and Ukraine.

Johnson, whose candidature was supported by former president Donald Trump, said that he would propose a short-term measure to fund the government through January 15 or April 15.

“So, at this time yesterday, nobody was thinking of Mike and then we put out the word and now he’s speaker of the House, so I wanted to thank all of the supporters that I have and I want to thank all of the supporters Mike has, and again he will be a great speaker,’ Trump said after the election of the new speaker.

In his speech, Johnson indicated that he is getting down to business immediately. ‘The American people’s business is too urgent at this moment,’ he said.

“We’re in the majority right now. We’ve gone through a little bit of suffering. We’ve gone through a little bit of character building. And, you know what it’s produced? More strength, more perseverance, and a lot of hope. And that’s what we are about to deliver to the American people,” Johnson said, adding that he would have an aggressive schedule in the days and weeks ahead.

US President Joe Biden said he is looking forward to working with the Speaker Johnson.

According to the White House, this afternoon, Biden called Johnson to congratulate him on his election, and expressed that he looks forward to working together to find common ground on behalf of the American people “While House Republicans spent the last 22 days determining who would lead their conference, I have worked on those pressing issues, proposing a historic supplemental funding package that advances our bipartisan national security interests in Israel and Ukraine, secures our border, and invests in the American people. These priorities have been endorsed by leaders in both parties,” Biden said in a statement.

“We need to move swiftly to address our national security needs and to avoid a shutdown in 22 days. Even though we have real disagreements about important issues, there should be mutual effort to find common ground wherever we can,” he said.

(Published 26 October 2023, 01:33 IST)

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