House Republicans unanimously voted to elect Rep. Mike Johnson as speaker on Wednesday in a stunning turnaround that came more than three weeks into a standoff that descended the chamber into a crisis of its own creation.
In a 220-209 vote, the Louisiana Republican clinched the gavel, bringing an end to the latest chapter of chaos in the GOP conference and returning the chamber to functionality.
The moment finally arrived after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s gavel was revoked, after Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s bid was denied, after Rep. Jim Jordan’s three speaker ballots came up short and after Majority Whip Tom Emmer’s nomination flamed out. The chamber’s fifth choice sailed to victory on Wednesday – whether by merit or by exhaustion.
Johnson, an unlikely candidate for speaker just weeks ago, was elected in 2016 and serves as the vice chairman of the House GOP conference. He made a pitch over the weekend as a “consensus candidate” for speaker. And although he came in second to Emmer for the nomination on Tuesday morning, by day’s end he had the support of a majority of the conference, becoming the new nominee.
Throughout the day on Tuesday, energy seemed to build around a Johnson speakership, as some lawmakers heralded Johnson as the only person who could get the number of votes needed to win the gavel in a chamber-wide vote after weeks of decrying that no one could reach the threshold. And by the evening, lawmakers spoke of a Johnson speakership as if it were all-but guaranteed.