US House has a Speaker, finally

Mike Johnson, a little-known Republican from Louisiana, was elected Speaker of the US House of Representatives on Wednesday, ending three weeks of squabbling in the majority to pick one of itself to a position that is second in line to the Presidency. /IANS

By Yashwant Raj

Washington, Oct 25 (IANS) Mike Johnson, a little-known Republican from Louisiana, was elected Speaker of the US House of Representatives on Wednesday, ending three weeks of squabbling in the majority to pick one of itself to a position that is second in line to the Presidency.

Johnson is 51 and comes to the office with the least experience of holding a leadership position. But party colleagues told US media that he got their support because he is seen as conservative enough and, as one of the told CNN, he has no enemies.

The New York Times called Johnson “one of the staunchest religious conservatives in the House”.

He has supported a national ban on abortion and opposed same-sex marriage.

Johnson is a hardliner in the mould of former President Donald Trump and played a pivotal role in congressional efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

He becomes the 56th speaker of the US House and he will succeed Kevin McCarthy, who was overthrown by a section of the party three weeks ago. Three men tried to take over, but failed to garner enough votes within the Republican party to reach and cross the 217 mark in the 435-member House.

Johnson won 220 votes to 209 won by Hakeem Jeffries of the Democratic party.; only 215 were needed Wednesday because of abstentions.

The new Speaker will be confronted almost immediately with a request for additional funding for Israel and Ukraine — to the tune of $105 billion — sent to the Congress by President Joe Biden. Johnson has long opposed funding of the war in Ukraine as have some others in the party; although the majority of Republicans are in favour.

“It has been an arduous few weeks, and a reminder that the House is as complicated and diverse as the people we represent,” Speaker Johnson said in a statement.

“The urgency of this moment demands bold, decisive action to restore trust, advance our legislative priorities, and demonstrate good governance. Our House Republican Conference is united, and eager to work.

“As Speaker, I will ensure the House delivers results and inspires change for the American people. We will restore trust in this body. We will advance a comprehensive conservative policy agenda, combat the harmful policies of the Biden Administration, and support our allies abroad. And we will restore sanity to a government desperately in need of it. Let’s get back to work.”

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