Republicans Elect Mike Johnson Speaker

U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson shakes hands with Rep. Andy Barr as the House of Representatives holds an election for a new speaker of the House Wednesday. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

If you ask House Republicans about their speakerless October—why Kevin McCarthy was ousted, why the conference had to go through four replacement candidates to find one who didn’t have sworn enemies determined to block him—you’ll get varying answers.

Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota blames “an increasingly polarized political environment that rewards intransigence, stubbornness, and fighting as opposed to finding common ground.”

Rep. Mike Gallagher’s theory is institutional decline. “You have people that feel no loyalty to an institution like Congress because it’s weak,” he told reporters. “We’ve gone from being the most powerful branch of government to the weakest, and they’re not going to abide by the rules of the conference or the norms of congressional behavior.”

Far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, on the other hand, believes the past month of chaos on the House floor was actually because “the GOP conference is changing, and it’s changing to reflect ‘America First.’”

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