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After weeks of uncertainty, House Republicans elected Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson, a conservative Christian who opposes abortion rights and same-sex marriage, as House speaker.
Although his hard-line conservative record is not widely known nationally, he is celebrated by many Republicans in his home state who welcome what they consider an important moment in Louisiana history .
The state’s GOP governor-elect, Jeff Landry, praised Johnson, saying he was “well-liked by everyone.” Congratulating him on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Landry said“He has the work ethic and tenacity to lead our country in this prestigious position. Louisiana is proud!”
Louisiana Welcomes Top Leaders’ Gains
After three other GOP candidates failed to gain enough support from their fellow House Republicans to secure the leadership position, Johnson was able to do so after just one vote, making history as as Louisiana’s first speaker. He is also the first speaker from the South since Georgia Republican Newt Gingrich held the post from 1995 to 1999.
His election means two of the highest leadership positions in the House – Speaker and Majority Leader – will be held by Louisianans. Republican Rep. Steve Scalise, who abandoned his presidential bid two weeks ago, is currently the House majority leader.
Johnson’s rise as a rank-and-file lawmaker who has served in the House since 2016 is also being hailed by far-right Republicans who now have a like-minded leader in the House’s top spot.
In a speech to his House colleagues after his election, Johnson said he would work to decentralize power in the House and he stressed the importance of getting the House working again.
“My office will be known for its members’ increased participation and greater influence in our processes,” he said.
Johnson won the presidency with all House Republicans voting for him after failing to elect three other Republican candidates, including Representative Scalise, Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, and Minnesota Representative Tom Emmer.
“We’re just getting started, but people are going to get to know and love what he stands for because he’s fighting for things bigger than himself and for people who have been ignored for too long,” said Scalise on Johnson during a news conference at the Capitol. Hill after his election.
In addition to support from Scalise and other Republicans in his home state, he received praise from Louisiana Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, who said Louisianans always find a way to work across lines party to make progress.
“I hope President Johnson can bring these Louisiana values to Washington,” Edwards said in a statement.
Critics voice concerns over conservative policies
However, others were less enthusiastic. Many Democrats are concerned about his record on restricting access to abortion and lack confidence in his ability to work across partisan lines.
Rep. Don Beyer, D-VA., Johnson described on
A staunch opponent of abortion rights, earlier this year Johnson posted onthen known as Twitter, that his home state would work to “reduce the number of abortions to ZERO!!”
Last year, he sponsored a bill billed as a national so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, modeled after a Florida law that bans education about gender identity and sexual orientation in some primary school classes. Although the bill never got further than its presentation, Johnson called it “common sense,” saying in a statement: “The Democratic Party and its cultural allies are embarking on a misguided crusade to plunge the young children in sexual images and radical gender ideology.
When the law was introduced, NPR’s Laurel Wamsley reported that the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for the rights of LGBTQ+ people, decried it, saying: “Extremist House Republicans like Mike Johnson continue their assault on the ability LGBTQ+ Americans to live their lives. openly and honestly. »
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A 2020 election denier with close ties to Trump
Johnson represents Louisiana’s 4th Congressional District, which covers most of the western and northwest parts of the state, including Shreveport. His record is considered just as conservative as Jordan’s. But Johnson is less well-known and has often been described as a quiet lawmaker who has a kinder facade than Jordan.
Like Jordan, he is an ally of former President Donald Trump, who on Wednesday praised the new president as “he’s a tremendous leader.” Johnson is also a staunch election denier who voted against certifying the 2020 election results. He was part of the team that defended Trump during his first impeachment inquiry. And he supported a lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in four swing states.
At a news conference after his election as president, GOP members jeered and booed a reporter’s question about whether Johnson was leading efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
The pro-Trump Republican is expected to work closely with Scalise and other GOP leaders in the coming weeks to get the House back on track after the chamber stalled as Republicans struggled to choose a new speaker.
“We will restore confidence in this organization,” says Johnson said the. “We will advance a comprehensive conservative policy agenda, fight the Biden administration’s harmful policies, and support our allies abroad. And we will restore sanity to a government that desperately needs it. Let’s get back to work.”
Congress has less than a month to come up with a plan to fund the government and avoid a November shutdown.