The New Speaker of the House – Mike Jordan

Mike Jordan, the New Speaker of the House | Source: NBC


The House Speaker election between Republican Mike Johnson and Democrat Hakeem Jeffries on Oct. 25, 2023. (ALEX BRANDON/AP PHOTO)

On Wednesday, October 25th, 2023, the House of Representatives elected Rep. Mike Johnson as Speaker of the House after three weeks without a speaker. Rep. Johnson had unanimous Republican support, with 220 votes, while 209 votes were for Democrat candidate Hakeem Jeffries. Rep. Johnson’s predecessor was Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who was elected on January 7th, 2023 after 15 rounds of voting. In the fourteenth round, McCarthy lost by just one vote. 

How Rep. McCarthy Got Ousted

To get the support of his colleagues in his party, Rep. McCarthy made severe concessions. Among those concessions were agreeing to cap discretionary spending at the levels it was at at the beginning of the Biden administration and re-instituting the Holman rule that allows for a reduction in compensation for government officials. Most notably, Rep. McCarthy also gave in to allowing the number of GOP conference members who could start a “motion to vacate”—the process of removing the speaker—to drop from five to one. 

That particular concession led Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida to push for a motion to vacate as tensions between the GOP and Rep. McCarthy intensified due to the party’s distaste for Rep. McCarthy’s appeal to Democrats and the Biden administration.

On October 3rd, 2023, Rep. McCarthy was ousted from his position as Speaker of the House in a 216-210 final tally.  “I may have lost this vote today, but as I walk out of this chamber, I feel fortunate to have served,” Rep. McCarthy said at a press conference at the Capitol. 

Process of Electing a New Speaker

After the vote for the motion to vacate, the House named Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina as temporary Speaker of the House. Rep. McHenry, known to be a longtime supporter of Rep. McCarthy, was selected by McCarthy in January. 

The position of Speaker of the House is a constitutional need. While the Constitution doesn’t detail the exact duties of the role, without a Speaker of the House, Congress cannot follow through with its usual business. This can cause problems for the well-being of the nation when Congress needs to act quickly and diligently, such as when deciding on funding packages for Israel and Ukraine. After McCarthy’s ousting, Congress ensued in a chaotic process to elect a new Speaker. While there were talks to elect McHenry as the permanent Speaker, there wasn’t enough widespread support in favor of that. Multiple candidates were nominated. For example, Republicans initially nominated Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana on October 11th. The next day, Rep. Scalise withdrew himself from consideration after he realized he would not get a sufficient number of votes.

Next, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio was nominated on October 13th and went through three rounds of voting. Still, he could not produce enough votes to get him elected. The Republicans, his own party, dropped his nomination entirely on October 20th. Reports from multiple sources, such as The Times, say Republicans voted to drop him in a secret, closed-door vote.

A similar scenario unfolded for Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, currently House Majority Whip, who dropped mere hours after his nomination on October 24th. That same night, Republicans nominated Rep. Mike Johnson, who soon won the election a day later on October 25th in a 220-209 vote along party lines, effectively ending a 3-week-long power struggle in the Republican Party and allowing Congress to function again. 


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