Over the past few weeks, the lower chamber of the United States Congress, the House of Representatives, has had quite a wild ride due to their woes of not having a Speaker of the House to lead the legislative process. It started with former Speaker Kevin McCarthy being ousted from his position by a fellow Republican representative, Matt Gaetz, and took an unexpected turn when ultraconservative Representative Jim Jordan won his party’s nomination. However, after he, too, lacked the total of 217 votes from both parties to win the gavel, he dropped out of the race to make room for another Republican who would be able to unite the party once and for all. And finally, after four rounds of official ballots and just over three weeks without a speaker – resulting in a major part of the American governmental system effectively paralyzed during various international crises and a government shutdown – Republicans, who have the majority, were able to come to a consensus on who should lead the House: Rep. Mike Johnson from Louisiana’s 4th congressional district.
Johnson, who has served in the House for four terms, is a part of the hard-right group of Republican representatives, the House Freedom Caucus. He maintains strong socially conservative beliefs and has opposed same sex marriage, introducing a bill in 2022 that would have banned the discussion of gender identity in American schools. He has also fought against abortion rights, calling the conservative-leaning Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn federal protections for abortions a “great, joyous occasion”. Johnson defended former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, an action that even many of his Republican colleagues opposed. As a former constitutional lawyer, he supported a case that was trying to throw out Pennsylvania’s election results (a battleground state that President Joseph Biden won in the 2020 election), and called for Trump to “keep fighting”.
However, despite Johnson’s hyper-partisan record, he has expressed interest to work in a bipartisan manner, across the aisle. In his first speech delivered to the House after his victory in the elections for Speaker, the first person he thanked was the Democratic Minority Leader of the House, Representative Hakeem Jefferies from New York’s 8th congressional district. Pointing directly at Leader Jefferies, he said that he looks forward to working with him “on behalf of the American people.” He continued with a reference to the polarization between the two parties: “I know we see things from very different points of views, but I know that in your heart, you love and care about this country and you want to do what’s right so we’re going to find common ground there.” This set the stage for Johnson’s hopes to not just unite his own divided Republican party, but also the divide between Democrats and Republicans that has only been exacerbated in recent years.
The past few weeks have come with many landmark moments in American political history: the first time that a Speaker has been ousted from office, the longest time that Congress has been ‘speaker-less’ since 1962, and the beginning of the rise of a new period for House Republicans under Speaker Johnson’s command. However, America’s eyes will be watching how he steers his party and the entire House of Representatives through a time of great distress, both within this nation’s borders and abroad.
Hello! My name is Krishna Mano and I am a sophomore at City High School. This is my fourth year writing for The City Voice and second year as an editor. Apart from the newspaper, I am part of the Speech and Debate team, President of the 10th Grade Student Council, and Treasurer of the NHS. Outside of school, I enjoy playing the violin, reading, skiing, and paddleboarding. If you have any questions about my articles, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.