Our Best Stuff From the Week We Got a Speaker

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson prepares to address the House chamber after winning the speakership on Wednesday, October 25, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images)

Hello and happy Sunday. A common dilemma in the Ohio bureau is what to do for dinner when we can’t or don’t want to cook. My husband and I might want Chinese, but one kid will want wings and the other two might want pizza but insist on entirely different pizzerias. Eventually, we just pile in the car and go out for Mexican. No one gets what they really wanted, but dinner is served. Sound familiar?

After three weeks of chaos and dysfunction, House Republicans sighed, rolled their eyes and settled on Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana to be the new speaker of the House. Johnson helped lead efforts to overturn the 2020 election—which is something that some lawmakers held against Rep. Jim Jordan while voting to deny him the speakership. Johnson’s been a vocal supporter of Ukraine—though his voting record may not reflect that—which annoys the Matt Gaetzes and Marjorie Taylor Greenes of the House Republican conference. But somehow, Republicans put aside their differences and voted unanimously on Wednesday to make Johnson the speaker. 

Johnson wasn’t as well-known as some of the other speaker candidates who came forward after Democrats voted with eight hardline Republicans to oust Kevin McCarthy earlier this month. Michael Warren has some background: “[Johnson] is known internally for promoting conservative policies on abortion and same-sex marriage, yet is regarded highly even by his more socially moderate colleagues as a trustworthy person. His most notable act before becoming speaker was as the architect of an amicus brief in January 2021 supporting a Texas lawsuit to throw out the 2020 presidential election results in four states won by Joe Biden—a last-ditch effort to block the counting of the electoral votes.”

The Friday Dispatch Politics newsletter highlighted Johnson’s work for Alliance Defending Freedom and noted he has been criticized by the left for his stances on gay rights. “Of more immediate concern isn’t where Johnson would have weighed in on the fights of the 2000s, but how he’ll shepherd Republicans through the fights dividing them today,” the team wrote, noting that Johnson is somewhat hawkish on Ukraine but wants to keep any assistance to Israel and Ukraine separated.

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