Voting underway as Rep. Mike Johnson takes bid to the floor newsbhunt

Washington — The House is voting on Rep. Mike Johnson’s bid to become the next speaker of the House on Wednesday as the party hopes to finally unite behind a candidate and fill a vacancy that has been open for three weeks.

No significant opposition has emerged for Johnson’s candidacy from his fellow Republicans, and lawmakers were hopeful that they could elect him in a single round of voting. With four absences and two vacancies, Johnson likely needs 215 votes to secure a majority and become speaker.

Johnson won his party’s nomination late Tuesday night, hours after Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota became the third Republican nominee to flop since former Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted in early October. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise threw his support behind Johnson late Tuesday.

Rep. Mike Johnson talks with Rep. Kevin McCarthy on the House floor before the fourth vote to elect a new House speaker at the Capitol on Oct. 25, 2023.

TOM BRENNER/AFP via Getty Images

After prevailing over seven other candidates in a five-round vote, Emmer couldn’t overcome opposition from conservatives, who cited his votes to certify the 2020 presidential election and to protect same-sex marriage among the reasons they would not support him. 

Former President Donald Trump voiced strong opposition to Emmer shortly after he won the nomination, calling him a “Globalist RINO” and claiming Emmer was “out of touch with Republican voters.”

Asked Tuesday evening by reporters whether Trump’s opposition had been a deciding factor in his withdrawal, Emmer replied, “I made my decision based on my relationship with the conference.” 

Emmer’s failed bid — which followed those of Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Scalise — left Republicans scrambling for a candidate who could amass a majority.

“I actually think that we may be on a merry-go-round,” Rep. Max Miller of Ohio told reporters Tuesday night after Emmer dropped out. “Who knows, we might end up back at Speaker McCarthy. He’s still got the most votes on anybody in that room.” In the final runoff between Johnson and Rep. Byron Donalds, of Florida, McCarthy, who was not a declared candidate, won more votes than Donalds.

Without a speaker, the House has been in a state of paralysis as a deadline to avoid a government shutdown nears. It’s also impeding any consideration of aid to Israel or Ukraine. 

Rep. Patrick McHenry, who is serving as temporary speaker, insists his role is limited to overseeing the election of a new speaker and he is unable to move legislation. Efforts to expand his power have been unsuccessful. 

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