UPDATE: Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) is the latest GOP nominee for speaker, but he may face the same types of divisions that sank three previous party designees for the top House post.
Johnson, the vice chair of the House Republican Conference and deputy whip, drew 128 votes in the third ballot this evening, per CNN, but coming in second, with 44 votes, was “other.” GOP members cast 43 of those “other” votes for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the former speaker, even though he was not in the race. Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL), the other declared candidate, garnered 29 votes.
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“Democracy is messy sometimes, but it is our system,” Johnson said to reporters after the vote. “This conference, this House Republican majority is united.” He said the “intention” is go to the House floor for a vote on Wednesday.
Johnson has been in Congress since 2017. He is a defender of Donald Trump as he claimed that the 2020 presidential election was rigged. The congressman lobbied members to sign on to an unsuccessful lawsuit challenging the results. Johnson also voted against certifying the 2020 election results, unlike House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN), whose speaker nomination lasted just a few hours today before he dropped out of the race.
Johnson took questions from reporters tonight, but he declined to answer questions about his role in trying to overturn the results. In fact, as he stood with members in a show of unity, they started to boo the reporters’ question. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) told the reporter to “shut up.” Johnson also declined to answer whether he would support more aid to Israel and Ukraine. “Go away,” said Foxx, even though reporters had been invited to ask him questions. “We’re not doing any policy tonight,” Johnson said.
Johnson is the fourth GOP nominee since McCarthy was ousted on Oct. 3. Emmer and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) exited the race after it became clear they could not get the 217 votes to become speaker, and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) was given three tries on the House floor before his bid ended.
PREVIOUSLY, Tuesday PM: House Majority Whip Tom Emmer’s bid for speaker of the House is already over, after he was unable to win over a group of GOP holdouts and after Donald Trump weighed in against him.
Emmer, a congressman from Minnesota, was the third Republican nominated for the post since Kevin McCarthy was ousted three weeks ago. He dropped out of the race during a 4 p.m. ET meeting of the GOP conference, per CNN.
“It looks like he’s finished,” Trump said of Emmer this afternoon.
Emmer had emerged the winner after five rounds of secret balloting in a closed-doors meeting of the Republican conference, but he was viewed as too moderate for some 26 holdouts in the GOP caucus, having backed legislation last year to codify same-sex marriage into federal law and having voted to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election in favor of Joe Biden.
CNN’s Jake Tapper, who is anchoring from Israel, called the latest development “utterly embarrassing.”
Tapper told viewers, “I’m covering life-and-death issues, serious tragedies, serious momentous occurrences here in Israel and of course in Gaza. And of course we have to interrupt this for one moment to cover the complete and utter clown car that is the House Republicans’ speaker’s race back in Washington, D.C.”
The latest wrinkle in the race drew coverage on the three major news networks, but it did not dominate the day in the way it did in past weeks. Rather, the networks devoted more time to the Israel-Gaza crisis and to Trump’s legal troubles, a signal that the story is getting old even to a Beltway-focused media.
Emmer’s moment in the limelight lasted just a few hours before it became clear that he would have a difficult time obtaining the support of 217 Republicans to win the speakership. He garnered 117 votes on the fifth ballot, enough to be nominated, followed by Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), who received 97 votes. Johnson is expected to run again in a new effort to find a nominee who can win on the floor of the House.
UPDATED, Tuesday AM: Just as House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) was working to win over holdouts to his bid to become House speaker, former President Donald Trump weighed in against him.
Trump wrote on Truth Social, “I have many wonderful friends wanting to be Speaker of the House, and some are truly great Warriors. RINO Tom Emmer, who I do not know well, is not one of them. He never respected the Power of a Trump Endorsement, or the breadth and scope of MAGA—MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! He fought me all the way, and actually spent more time defending Ilhan Omar, than he did me—He is totally out-of-touch with Republican Voters.”
Trump added, “I believe he has now learned his lesson, because he is saying that he is Pro-Trump all the way, but who can ever be sure? Has he only changed because that’s what it takes to win? The Republican Party cannot take that chance, because that’s not where the America First Voters are. Voting for a Globalist RINO like Tom Emmer would be a tragic mistake!”
Emmer won the Republican conference race to become their nominee for speaker earlier today, and it looked as if Trump would stay out of the race. On Monday, Trump told reporters he talked to Emmer over the weekend, and the former president declined to endorse anyone and indicated that he would stay out of the race. But now that Emmer is facing the uphill climb of convincing 26 Republican holdouts to vote for him if and when his nomination would make it to the House floor, Trump took to his social media platform to try to scuttle his chances. Trump has been in a New York courthouse today to watch his civil fraud trial, where his former attorney Michael Cohen is testifying.
Republicans are breaking for the next couple of hours before meeting again.
PREVIOUSLY, earlier Tuesday: House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) today won the Republican nomination to be the next Speaker of the House, but he now faces the uphill challenge of garnering the 217 votes needed to be elected in a floor vote.
Emmer is the third GOP speaker nominee in as many weeks, as House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) each were tapped by the Republican majority yet failed to get elected. The protracted battle has exposed bitter rifts and bad blood within the Republican conference, and has left the House at a standstill at a moment of international crises and the prospect of government funding running out next month.
Emmer drew 117 votes on the fifth secret ballot of the House Republican conference, which met behind closed doors today at the Capitol, according to CNN. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) generated 97 votes. Other candidates received five votes and one person voted present. Republicans then held a closed door roll call of members on how they intended to vote on the floor for speaker, and Emmer still fell short, with 26 lawmakers saying they would vote for someone else.
Emmer is regarded as more moderate than Johnson, having voted for legislation last year to codify the right to same-sex marriage and, more recently, for a bill to extend government funding into November. He also voted to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election, something that has helped make him a target of backers of Donald Trump. Steve Bannon railed against Emmer on his podcast, although Trump himself declined to weigh in against him on Monday. “He called me yesterday and he told me, ‘I am your biggest fan,'” Trump told reporters.
Assuming all Democrats remain united behind their choice for speaker, Hakeem Jeffries, Emmer can only lose four Republican votes given the GOP’s narrow majority. That proved elusive for Emmer’s predecessors: Scalise dropped out of the race after it became clear that he would not be able to consolidate support, and Jordan went through three floor votes last week before Republicans dropped him as their nominee.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was ousted as speaker earlier this month when eight Republicans, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), backed a motion to vacate.
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