Republicans nominate Mike Johnson for House speaker after Emmer's withdrawal
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans chose Rep. Mike Johnson as their latest nominee for House speaker late Tuesday, hours after an earlier pick, Rep. Tom Emmer, abruptly withdrew in the face of opposition from Donald Trump and hardline GOP lawmakers.
Johnson of Louisiana, a lower-ranked member of the House GOP leadership team, becomes the fourth Republican nominee after Emmer and the others fell short in what has become an almost absurd cycle of political infighting since Kevin McCarthy’s ouster as GOP factions jockey for power.
Refusing to unify, far-right members won’t accept a more traditional speaker and moderate conservatives don’t want a hardliner. During private balloting, Johnson won a majority, but ahead of an expected House floor vote Wednesday the nominee will need almost all Republicans to win the gavel.
“Mike! Mike! Mike!” lawmakers chanted at a press conference afterward, surrounding Johnson and posing for selfies in a show of support.
Three weeks on, the Republicans have been frittering away their majority status — a maddening embarrassment to some, democracy in action to others, but not at all how the House is expected to function.
Anxious and exhausted, Republican lawmakers are desperately trying to move on. “Pretty sad commentary on governance right now,” said Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark. “Maybe on the fourth or fifth or sixth or 10th try we’ll get this thing right.”
After he withdrew Tuesday afternoon, Emmer briskly left the building where he had been meeting privately with Republicans. He said later at the Capitol that Trump’s opposition did not affect his decision to bow out.
“I made my decision based on my relationship with the conference,” he said, referring to the GOP majority. He said he would support whomever emerges as the new nominee. “We’ll get it done.”
Trump, speaking as he left the courtroom in New York where he faces business fraud charges, said his “un-endorsement” must have had an impact on Emmer’s bid.
“He wasn’t MAGA,” said Trump, the party’s front-runner for the 2024 presidential election, referring to his Make America Great Again campaign slogan.
House Republicans returned behind closed doors, where they spend much of their time,