Three weeks after Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives booted Rep. Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker, and after three failed attempts to vote on a new speaker, House members on Wednesday (Oct. 25) elected U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana as House Speaker.
All four members of Arkansas’ House delegation voted for Johnson.
Johnson, a native of Shreveport, La., is the 56th Speaker of the House and a relative unknown on the national political scene and even among some Republican members of the U.S. Senate. Johnson, an opponent of continued funding for Ukraine, was also among House members who pushed on Jan. 6 to overturn the election of then President-elect Joe Biden. Johnson was one of several House members who pushed the theory that Hugo Chavez of Venezuela had infiltrated software used by voting machines. Since being named Speaker-designate, Johnson has declined to answer questions about his role in trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
On social issues, he is a staunch anti-abortion advocate and has said homosexuality is “inherently unnatural” and legalizing gay marriage would result in “legalized pedophilia.”
He is an attorney who was elected to Congress in 2016 and also was a member of the Louisiana Legislature from 2015 to 2017.
“Thank you to my colleagues, friends, staff, and family for the unmatched support throughout this process. It has been an arduous few weeks and a reminder that the House is as complicated and diverse as the people we represent. The urgency of this moment demands bold, decisive action to restore trust, advance our legislative priorities, and demonstrate good governance,” Johnson said in a statement following Wednesday afternoon’s vote.
Following are statements from House members representing Arkansas.
Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro
“I was pleased to join my colleagues today in electing Mike Johnson as Speaker of the House of Representatives so that we can resume work on addressing the illegal immigration crisis at our southern border, a looming government shutdown in November, and the troubling destabilization in the Middle East that is unfolding following the brutal terrorist attacks against Israel. Solving these difficult problems will require far greater unity in Congress than we have seen recently. But unity is one of our national founding principles, and the strength of our nation, indeed, any nation, rests upon this principle.”
U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock
“As Vice-Chairman of our House Republican Conference and former Republican Study Committee Chairman, Rep. Mike Johnson has been an effective communicator with members of the House during his time in Congress. I supported Rep. Johnson as our new Speaker of the House and believe he will be a unifying bridge for our conference. I thank my friend Rep. Patrick McHenry for his exemplary leadership as Speaker Pro Tempore during this unprecedented time and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy for securing a Republican majority and delivering on our conference’s conservative promises. Our conference will focus on passing the remaining appropriations bills and returning to our important work on behalf of the American people.”
Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers
“Over three weeks ago, eight members of the GOP teamed up with all 208 Democrats to tank our progress and send Congress into unmitigated chaos. Today, we finally ended this madness by uniting as a conference to elect Mike Johnson as our Speaker. Mr. Johnson is a good man, a devoted Christian, and a well-respected, capable conservative. I’m proud to support him as we get back to the business of America and respond to crises both at home and abroad.”
Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs
“Mike Johnson is a committed conservative, and I was proud to vote for him as our speaker. I look forward to working with him on issues like securing our border, funding the government, and boosting American energy production. Congratulations Speaker Johnson, let’s get to work!”
Grant Tennille, chair of the Democratic Party of Arkansas, provided the following statement to Talk Business & Politics.
“Today, House Republicans voted in lockstep to elect the most extreme Speaker in the country’s history. Mike Johnson is a ringleader in the effort to overturn the 2020 election and hijack our Democracy. He is anti-choice and anti-civil rights, but for slashing Social Security and Medicare. In the end, Johnson makes Kevin McCarthy look like Bernie Sanders, so it comes as no surprise that after a couple of weeks of hand-wringing, the Arkansas delegation finally remembered where they really stand on the rule of law and did as they were told.”