Speaker Johnson

We finally have a winner. And we're all losers.

The tea leaf readers at Punchbowl were onto it: the Republican Caucus finally capitulated, with not a single member voting against Mike Johnson.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is speaker-vote.png

There are still a few votes outstanding but the threshold was 218. Despite far fewer than 435 Representatives voting, this is in fact the final count.


FILED UNDER: Congress, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Kathy says:

    His first official act should be to schedule a motion to vacate. It saves time.

  2. Rick DeMent says:

    So we are on the shut down train.

  3. Beth says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    Always were…

  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    Whew, what a relief. I thought I might have to revise my taxonomy of Republicans: Morons, Cowards and Liars. The cowards have come through again.

  5. Mister Bluster says:

    Needless to say I would rather have seen Representative Jeffries elected Speaker with the support of a handful of Republicans. I would also like free chicken wings every Thursday.
    How much longer could the body politic have tolerated a paralyzed House of Representatives?
    Will the Congress divided by a Republican majority House and a Democratic majority Senate be paralysis of another kind?

  6. CSK says:

    Well, the MAGAs are in ecstasy. Johnson is Trump’s pick, Trump rules all.

  7. gVOR10 says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    So we are on the shut down train.

    And the deny Biden’s reelection train if they hold the majority.

  8. Kathy says:


    I’m not sure they can under current law, but I’m sure they’ll try.

    Therefore, it would benefit Democrats to look at every conceivable way the Krazy Klown Konference might try. They need to be prepared for it this time.

    I say conceivable and not possible, because last time that’s where they went, albeit in the Senate (that won’t work with VP Harris in place).

  9. becca says:

    Well, I watched the speeches and all I can say is Johnson is very pink cloud Christian and now I understand why Pelosi believed Hakim was a worthy replacement.

  10. Gustopher says:

    Onwards to a new display of disfunction.

  11. Beth says:


    What do you mean by Pink Cloud Christian? quick google wasn’t particularly illuminating.

  12. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Beth: Indeed! It’ll take the business interests that own the individual GQP Representatives to turn it back now. (I wonder if business interests are smart enough or care enough to force a budget resolution?)

    ETA: What I found was “The pink cloud syndrome is a term used for the honeymoon phase of sobriety when everything is good and positive.” What that has to do with Christianity is beyond me. Still, I’m not up-to-date with current phenom in Evangelicalism, so there might be more.

  13. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Beth: I had the same question. Apparently the term “pink cloud” has its origin in AA, where it describes the initial euphoria of going dry.

    In terms of faith, it seems to refers to a faith where “everything is going great!” Kind of like “rose-tinted glasses” I think. Which matches with the description of Johnson as “avuncular”. But I would like to hear what @becca has to say. I presume with Jeffries, she refers to the fact he’s a lifelong Baptist.

  14. becca says:

    @Beth: Basically, it means he thinks God speaks to him.

  15. Joe says:

    Unfortunately, this article in yesterday’s Bulwark, suggesting that Trump’s “aura of invincibility has been pierced.” turned out to be a dead cat bounce.

    The remaining question is whether the House doing bad things is worse than the House doing no things.

  16. becca says:

    @Jay L Gischer: As to Jeffries, I just thought him powerful and, frankly, quite attractive. Johnson probably has convinced himself he is righteous and sees God’s hand in all he does.
    There’s nothing more dangerous than someone who is sure they are right.

  17. Jay L Gischer says:

    So, I just read this quote from Johnson:

    I have just called President Trump to say this: “Stay strong and keep fighting, sir! The nation is depending upon your resolve. We must exhaust every available legal remedy to restore Americans’ trust in the fairness of our election system.”

    I can hear a gigantic, lawyerly hedge in that statement. He may or may not mean it, I certainly don’t know his mind. As a lawyer, I’m sure he’s aware that Trump’s cases are not going well, and there is significant evidence against him. And yeah, arguing dumb crap like “executive privilege” or “free speech” doesn’t really change the equation. I mean, this is an unprecedented prosecution, and we probably should be clear on every step. We won’t get clarity if Trump doesn’t fight hard, but why wouldn’t he?

  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jay L Gischer: @becca: According to Wikipedia, Johnson identifies as an Evangelical Christian and some of the other citations of groups and people (for example Kirk Cameron) he identifies with would argue for that broader affiliation. I started to say that as a Baptist, he would be less likely to believe that God speaks to him given that most Baptist groups that care about the question seem to hold that believing that God speaks directly (rather than through the scripture or by setting “desires/callings on one’s heart”) to someone leans heretical, if not Satanic. As an Evangelical however, I don’t think he’d have that type of qualms.

  19. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I’m not seeing a hedge there as much as a prelude to the next logical step if legal means fail to achieve the goal of exonerating Trump: Legal means have failed; we must take action to restore the greatness by whatever means are necessary.
    Whether Republiqans have the manpower (and the stones/huevos/balls/whatever) to carry through to “whatever…” remains to be seen. Whether they can even circle their own wagons for such a task remains to be seen. Glad I’m old and in questionable health. Good time in history to be on the downward slope.

  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    Johnson probably has convinced himself he is righteous and sees God’s hand in all he does.

    That’s every demagogue in history though. That was Pence up until he flinched and actually decided that he had principles.

  21. becca says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: not wanting to get into the weeds of specifics, Johnson is what we used to call a “professional Christian” in Nashville. They were rife in the the Gospel music industry. Fake faith was quite lucrative.

  22. Beth says:


    Thank you, and well, that’s terrifying.

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I’m not seeing a hedge there either. Like, it would have been a “Legal” remedy if say, the Wi Legislature overturned their election and gave the electors to Trump. It’s legal in the sense that law is used instead of violence to get what they want.

  23. charontwo says:

    Johnson is also in a “Covenant Marriage”, a special type of marriage in LA and a couple of other states.

    This is a nifty innovation in Louisiana law — versions of it also exist in Arizona and Arkansas — that basically gets rid of no-fault divorce. If you’re in a covenant marriage, you can’t get divorced without proving to a tribunal’s satisfaction that your spouse has committed adultery, a felony (unclear if trying to overthrow the government counts), your spouse is a drug addict, and/or has physically abused you and/or your children, or you’ve lived apart for at least two years. (You may also be required by the court to go through marital counseling).

    In other words, this converts marriage into the legal nightmare it was prior to women getting access to birth control and checking accounts, i.e., the horrible things that happened in the 1960s that the Mike Johnsons of the world consider the root of all evil even today.

    Strikingly, less than one percent of the marriages in Louisiana have been covenant marriages in the 25 years since the law making them possible was passed. The good news is that, even in America in 2023, the supply of theocratic misogynist crazies may be fairly limited. The bad news is that these people now clearly control the Republican party, in tandem with Donald Trump, the High Priest of Marital Sanctity.

    Dude looks like a real true believer, his wife is saying things that indicate she is also.

  24. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Beth: That quote is certainly ambiguous, which is why I would call it lawyerly. He is a lawyer, after all. It can be interpreted as you suggest, but it can be interpreted other ways.

    Democrats control two branches, Republicans control one. They cannot dictate, so what matters here is the manner in which they negotiate, at least for the next year and a half. Which means that Johnson’s policy preferences aren’t as important as other qualities.

    Recall my observation that while Nancy Pelosi comes from a very left-leaning district, she didn’t run her Speakership from the far left. She counted votes, and advanced things that she could get, and ignored stuff that wasn’t possible.

    Jordan would have been a “no negotiations, stonewall everything” sort of guy, and that only works when you aren’t expected to make deals. It’s a rock-throwing job. What will Johnson be like? It’s hard to say, but probably better? Maybe better than McCarthy?

  25. Jay L Gischer says:

    @becca: That’s a very different take than many, but I’ve never spent any time in Nashville, and it seems you have. I will have to bear that in mind.

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Joe: The remaining question is whether the House doing bad things is worse than the House doing no things.

    What makes you think they are capable of doing anything? The past year’s history says they can’t even wipe their asses. I see nothing that will change that.

  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @becca: Thanks! That clears up a lot.

  28. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The cowards have come through again.

    They’re not done.

    Should Johnson do something really bad, like keep the government shut down too long, one can count on no cowards moving to vacate him, even knowing they’d have the support of all Democrats.

    BTW, I do support a mechanism to remove the speaker, and for that matter the majority leader of the Senate as well as the President (or Benito, as the case may be). Sometimes it’s necessary and proper.

    there should be two major caveats, though: 1) it should not be too easy, and 2) there must be a good reason. McCarthy’s removal failed on both.

  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    Strikingly, less than one percent of the marriages in Louisiana have been covenant marriages in the 25 years since the law making them possible was passed.

    As long as the parties are entering into whatever bizarre relationships they are entering mutually, I have no complaints as to what they choose. At less than 1%, it would appear that it’s not something the population at large needs to fear, at least at this time.

    ETA: While I’m here, a citation for the quote would have been nice.

  30. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I wouldn’t guess better, but I’m willing to suspend my disbelief for the sake of the drama for the time being.

  31. Stormy Dragon says:


    The Senate equivalent of the Speaker of the House is the President Pro Tempore.

    Majority leader is a party position, not a legislative office, so how one gets to be one or stops being one is entirely up to the leader’s party

  32. inhumans99 says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Not an answer to your question, but I had heard and read about Covenant marriages being a thing in certain states many years back (this type of marriage contract option to enter into has actually been around for a very long time, so to speak…well over 10 years).

    What is new to me is the statistics on how many folks entered into a Covenant marriage. I had almost forgot that this type of marriage was created as basically an end-run around most states allowing couples to get a quick and easy divorce.

    If true that the number really is less than 1%, it is actually quite interesting that the states with the most folks bleating about the evils of divorce and how it is wrecking modern society have not stepped up to enter into these Covenant Marriage Contracts en-masse, but instead seem to be okay with allowing a woman to fairly disentangle herself from an untenable living situation just as easily as folks in CA can get a divorce.

    It seems that unlike some states politicians (such as those critters in TX) suffering no harm at the ballot box by endorsing draconian anti-abortion laws and letting fellow citizens rat each other out, forcing couples to remain together is not a winning idea.

    I always picture two people talking about something like Covenant marriages, getting to the point where one of them says hmm, maybe it is not a bad idea and more folks should consider such a marriage, but then the other person simply says you first, and the response is dead silence such that you can hear a pin drop (because it is much easier to think that in theory such a marriage contract might not be such a bad idea to help lower the divorce rate, but if that person was asked to actually sign such a contract, well…good luck with that).

    I probably first read about this type of marriage in a Ross Douthat article/editorial column.

    ETA: First, sorry to add to an already long post. I just googled when did covenant marriages begin, and the results indicate LA was the first state to offer this type of marriage back in 1997, so wow…it has been an option for quite some time, but not a popular one at that. I was born in 71, and did not realize that this type of marriage has been an option in admittedly a small number of states, for over half my lifetime. It says a lot that so few of these marriages are a thing as we head towards this option being around for almost 30 years.

  33. charontwo says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    As long as the parties are entering into whatever bizarre relationships they are entering mutually, I have no complaints as to what they choose. At less than 1%, it would appear that it’s not something the population at large needs to fear, at least at this time.

    Weird beliefs are fine provided the weirdly believing keep their weird beliefs to themselves. The behavior cited suggests the sort of Christianity that believes in “witnessing.” Choosing politics as a career also suggests a desire to share his beliefs, not necessarily only with people who want such sharing.

  34. Kathy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Fair enough.

    The thing is the majority leader controls the legislative schedule, and can do things like steal a supreme court seat, twice. It would have been nice if there’d been a mechanism to remove Mitch anyone in the chamber could use.

    I don’t expect there ever to be one, and I doubt the democrats could have found support to remove him even if such a thing existed.

    I think of myself as idealistic but not naive. I may be off in my judgment.

  35. just nutha says:

    @inhumans99: Familiar with the concept, but the state enforcing the “contract” proactively is news for me.
    @charontwo: Best I can do on “witnessing” is what I already do with JWs and Mormons — decline to participate.

  36. steve says:

    Evangelical Christians, in theory, believe in evangelizing. In the church (cult) in which I grew up we were expected to witness to people to try to help bring them to Christ. It basically just means telling people how wonderful it is to accept Christ and they should also. You could also shame people into accepting Christ but that was more the specialty of the preachers. In my church you were expected to do this on your own and there was also an organized visitation night every week you were expected to attend. You would visit designated homes, ring the doorbell and try to get them to talk with you about Jesus.


  37. Flat Earth Luddite says:


    When I read this, I immediately heard the opening bars of the Prince of Darkness’ hit


  38. CSK says:

    Johnson has supported the criminalization of gay sex. There’s a surprise.

  39. charontwo says:


    Go to the link to see it is filled with links that do not show in the cut and paste:

    Rep. Mike Johnson, the newly elected speaker of the House, is the most unabashedly Christian nationalist speaker in history.

    No group has been more supportive of Donald Trump — and more likely to believe that the 2020 election was stolen — than Christian nationalists, who believe God wants the U.S. to be a promised land for their religion. Their champion may no longer be president, but, in Johnson, they now have a true believer second in line to the presidency. An enthusiastic backer of bogus legal theories seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election, the 51-year-old Johnson was first elected to the House in 2016. Before then, he cut his teeth trying to erode the separation of church and state and abortion and LGBTQ rights as a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund – the Christian right legal powerhouse now known as the Alliance Defending Freedom.

    I first encountered Johnson in 2007, when I was working on a story about the ADF’s ambitions to eviscerate the separation of church and state, and to elevate the rights of anti-LGBTQ Christians above those of LGBTQ people. At the time, marriage equality was not yet the law of the land, but ADF already was portraying LGBTQ rights as in direct conflict with those of conservative Christians. Johnson pushed this argument for years, along with ADF and other allies in the Republican Party and Christian right.

    At the time, Johnson insisted to me that Christians were the ones facing discrimination. He claimed that “what we’re seeing in more and more cases is a discrimination against particular viewpoints, even outright hostility sometimes, against … kids who hold a Christian kind of worldview who want to share Christian viewpoints or speech on campus, and they’re being discriminated against because some people see that as intolerant, or however they characterize it.”

    Ten years after Johnson laid out that theory, I met him again at a Capitol Hill news conference where he and Republican colleagues were announcing their submission of an amicus brief on ADF’s side in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which a baker claimed a civil rights investigation against him for refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding violated his religious freedom.

    etc., etc.

    When Johnson first ran for Congress in 2016, he told a Baptist newspaper, “Some people are called to pastoral ministry and others to music ministry, etc. I was called to legal ministry and I’ve been out on the front lines of the ‘culture war.’” As a congressman, Johnson has introduced legislation mimicking Florida’s constitutionally challenged “Don’t Say Gay” law and has suggested parents do not have the right to seek gender-affirming care for their kids. “No parent has a constitutional right to injure their children,” he said at a subcommittee hearing earlier this year.

    In her nominating speech for Johnson, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., invoked the biblical story of God commanding Samuel to anoint David king. Stefanik quoted from 1 Samuel 16:7, according to which God told Samuel that he looked not at appearances, but “at the heart.” Johnson, who Stefanik said “epitomizes what it means to be a servant leader,” was the choice, she implied, of Republicans who were following God’s direction in choosing him. Between the Bible talk and Johnson’s record, Republicans have made abundantly clear that they have emerged from the uncertainty and chaos of the last few weeks with one clear mission: to run a Christian nationalist House.

  40. Mister Bluster says:

    I’d like to talk to you about Cheeses.

  41. DrDaveT says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    As an Evangelical however, I don’t think he’d have that type of qualms.

    Traditional doctrines are irrelevant here. Any actual Christians are no longer Trumpists; the evangelicals who continue to support Trump have no orthodoxy or doctrine, they only have tribe and anger. What they believe has nothing to do with theology.

  42. JohnSF says:

    Well, nice to see the US has a very rational person as new Speaker of the House.
    Young earth creationist, climate change denier, enthusiast for forced birth, “great replacement” adjacent, active election overturn participant.
    Oh dear.

    Not a secessionist, so there’s that, I suppose.

  43. Tony W says:



    We should be so lucky….

  44. Charley in Cleveland says:

    The House GOP’s dalliance with Jim Jordan opened the door to an evangelical bigot – a smarter and less subtle version of Mike Pence. That Johnson and his ilk are in thrall to a thrice married, adulterous, corrupt, pathological liar shows the shallowness of the religious beliefs they so proudly and loudly wear on their sleeves. To paraphrase James Carville, It’s the hypocrisy, stupid!

  45. KM says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    As long as the parties are entering into whatever bizarre relationships they are entering mutually

    It’s signing away agency for an indefinite period of time with an extremely complicated and designed to fail “escape clause”. A leonine contract that drastically favors one side over the other, especially considering the tribunal or arbitration will definitely not be impartial and hold to patriarchal values. She may think she understands going in what’s happening but it’s a leopards won’t eat my face mentality; of course she won’t need a divorce or separation because she’s a good holy woman marrying a godly man. What can go wrong?

    Same thinking as women who opposed abortion as EVIL only to find bad luck and circumstances require her to get one. Or a young person signing up for insurance because they’re young and healthy and why waste the money, right? Limited understanding of the repercussions means you might mutually agree at the moment with a bad deal but that should only be allowed if you can change your mind in the future when it’s no longer mutual. Things like this are meant to trap and shouldn’t be allowed as the trap inevitable springs.

  46. charontwo says:
  47. just nutha says:

    @KM: Still, not my job to decide what other people should do. That’s why it’s called agency/free will.

  48. DrDaveT says:

    @just nutha:

    Still, not my job to decide what other people should do. That’s why it’s called agency/free will.

    So, you oppose minimum wage laws, on the grounds that people have agency and can decide for themselves what wage they are willing to accept?