Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) was elected speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday by a vote of 220-209, with every GOP lawmaker voting for him. His election ends a chaotic 22-day slog during which the GOP cycled through three other nominees before settling on Johnson.
Johnson, one of the chief architects of the effort to overturn the 2020 election, is second in line for the presidency.
In December 2020, Johnson authored an amicus brief that urged the U.S. Supreme Court to side with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in the case of State of Texas v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania et al. and nullify the election results in four swing states President Joe Biden carried.The court declined to hear the case, effectively killing the effort.
He also espoused the baseless conspiracy theory about voting machines being controlled by the late Venezuelan autocrat Hugo Chavez.
“When you have a software system that is used across the country that is suspect because it came from Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, when you have testimonials of people like this, but in large numbers, it begs to be litigated and investigated,” Johnson said in an interview on Shreveport talk radio station KEEL after the 2020 election, according to New York magazine’s Intelligencer.
On Jan. 6, 2021, the day thousands of Donald Trump supporters waged a violent assault on the U.S. Capitol to try to stop the certification of Biden’s victory, Johnson fanned the flames with election denier rhetoric.
“We MUST fight for election integrity, the Constitution, and the preservation of our republic! It will be my honor to help lead that fight in the Congress today,” Johnson tweeted.
Johnson ultimately voted against certifying Biden’s victory, even after the mob’s attack on the Capitol.
After he won the nomination for speaker Tuesday night, a reporter on Capitol Hill asked Johnson to defend his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Johnson refused, while a large group of GOP lawmakers standing around him at a news conference booed and told the reporter, “Shut up.”
Johnson was on Trump’s defense team during his first impeachment.
“The Democrat majority in the House ignored the Constitution and the rule of law to obtain their single-party impeachment vote, and this has not been a fair fight—until now,” Johnson said in a statement at the time. “I look forward to working with this exceptional team to ensure that order is restored and justice prevails.”
Johnson is also staunchly against abortion.
In February, Johnson said during a House hearing that the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade was good for the economy because it would ensure that more babies are born.
“We have an aging population here, we don’t have able-bodied workers, enough of them in the economy to support our programs, Social Security and Medicare for example,” Johnson said.
And on June 25, 2022, after Roe was overturned, Johnson tweeted: “BREAKING: Late yesterday, the La. Department of Health informed abortion facilities in our state that the right to life has now been RESTORED! Perform an abortion and get imprisoned at hard labor for 1-10 yrs & fined $10K-$100K.”
“The Republican nominee for Speaker thinks women should be treated like incubators,” Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) tweeted.
The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America gives Johnson an A+ on its anti-abortion scorecard, saying that he “has stood up against the pro-abortion agenda of the Biden-Harris administration and Pelosi Democrats who are actively working to expand abortion access and abortion funding.”
Johnson also opposes same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ rights.
In 2022, he introduced a federal bill similar to Florida’s “Don’t say gay” law that would have blocked teachers or staff at any school that receives federal funding from discussing topics “involving gender identity, gender dysphoria, transgenderism, sexual orientation, or related subjects” with students under the age of 10.
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) tweeted as the vote for speaker neared, “The republicans’ latest pick for leader is a staunch enemy of women’s freedom and supports a national abortion ban.”