Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Republicans nominate Mike Johnson for House speaker

On Tuesday evening, Republicans chose Mike Johnson as their nominee for Speaker of the House.

Hours earlier, previously selected Tom Emmer withdrew his nomination from the ballot, facing opposition from hardline Republicans and Donald Trump.

Mr Johnson of Louisiana, a member of the Republican leadership, became the fourth candidate after Mr Emmer and several others were not chosen to run after Kevin McCarthy was ousted.

No compromise could have been reached because far-right members did not want to accept a more traditional Speaker and more moderate members did not want a hard line. Mr Johnson immediately held a closed-door roll call to test his support ahead of the House vote, when he will need the votes of a majority of Republicans to get the gavel.

For three weeks now, Republicans have squandered their majority, some cheering and some realising that this is not how the House of Representatives is supposed to function. After withdrawing his nomination on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Emmer left the building where he had been holding private meetings with Republicans but later returned to offices in the Capitol. He said Mr Trump’s opposition to Mr Emmer had failed to influence his decision to leave the party. He said, referring to the Republican majority:

 “I made my decision based on my relationship with the conference.”

He pledged to support the new candidate. Mr Trump, leaving a courtroom in New York where he faces fraud charges, said his “disapproval” must have influenced Mr Emmer’s candidacy. He said, referring to his Make America Great Again campaign slogan:

 “He wasn’t MAGA.”

As a result, Republicans began looking again for a leader who could once again, unite the fractions, open the House and lead the US Congress into action. Attention quickly turned to Mr Johnson of Louisiana, a member of the party leadership, who finished second in Tuesday’s internal vote. He received 128 votes in the evening vote.

Mr Johnson, as a lawyer, has rallied Republicans around Mr Trump’s legal attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. But hardliners quickly resisted Mr Johnson’s nomination, and within minutes of the end of the evening vote, an updated list of candidates was drawn up.

Among them was Byron Donalds of Florida, a Trump associate who finished third in the morning vote, and several others. One idea, first reported by NBC News, was to reappoint McCarthy as speaker and hardliner Jim Jordan as the new leader. Politicians said the idea was seen as a way to unite the conference, but they were unsure of its effectiveness.

Trump, who is running for president again in 2024, earlier backed Jim Jordan for speaker, but Republicans abandoned that attempt last week after Jordan lost three floor votes. Before that, it was Steve Scalise. The No 2 House Republican, Steve Scalise dropped out when he was unable to line up enough votes to win the job.

Democrats have said they are open to a compromise candidate who would allow the chamber to function. Many Republicans have said on principle that they would not back somebody who had support from the opposition party.


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