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What We’ve Learned So Far About The New Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Pace chapter.

On Wednesday, Oct. 25, Representative Mike Johnson (R-LA) was elected and sworn in as Congress’ 56th Speaker of the House. Johnson received a unanimous vote from all 220 House Republicans, exceeding the 215 total votes needed to win. All 209 House Democrats voted for their nominee and House Minority Leader, Hakeem Jefferies (D-NY). Since the historic ousting of Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as House Speaker, Johnson was the fourth Republican to be nominated for the role in the past three weeks. Prior to his election, Johnson was a low-ranking member of the House GOP leadership committee and has served his congressional district since 2017. 

Now, what exactly does the Speaker of the House do? Most importantly, the House Speaker is second in line for the presidency, after the Vice President. The Speaker is the majority political party leader in the House, which alone is one of the most influential jobs in the government. They also manage all institutional business on the House floor, and like other House reps, vote on legislation representing their constituents as needed. In these roles, the Speaker is a crucial negotiator between Congress and the President. They are fundamental to the House’s ability to create and pass legislation, and possess the “power of the purse,” collecting and allocating tax payers’ money.

Johnson is now faced with several challenges: the most daunting of which is the looming government shutdown. Earlier this year on Sep. 30, Congress narrowly avoided a total government shutdown by passing a bill to fund the government for roughly 50 more days to come to a consensus on a federal budget for the 2024 fiscal year. That deadline expires on Nov. 17, and the inability to satisfy the House Republicans with the budget is what cost Johnson’s predecessor his job.

Why should you care about Mike Johnson being the Speaker of the House? Because of his alarming stances on the 2020 election results, reproductive justice, and LGBTQ+ rights. Johnson played a leading role in the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election. He recruited over 60% of House Republicans to sign a legal brief that would seek to overturn the election results. Johnson claimed that the election was “rigged” and defended the Republicans’ objection to President Joe Biden’s victory. No credible source has supported this conspiracy theory. In fact, Fox News settled for $787.5 million in a defamation lawsuit in April of this year to software company Dominion for falsely reporting that their voting machines were susceptible to hacking and had caused Donald Trump to lose the election. Apart from spreading serious disinformation, Johnson has actively sought to undermine one of the pillars of American democracy.

Johnson has voted in favor of a national abortion ban, and even co-sponsored a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. To put it into perspective, one in three people don’t realize they are pregnant until after six weeks, and one in five don’t realize until after seven weeks. Later confirmation of pregnancy is even higher among people of color, low-income people, and young people. Johnson has also vehemently fought against access to birth control. In November of 2013, Johnson detailed his efforts to challenge the contraception mandate made by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), a clause in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that required employers to include birth control coverage as a part of employee insurance plans. 

Johnson has also been openly anti-LGBTQ+ for two decades. He worked as an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group, for more than 10 years. Johnson introduced a national “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Congress last year, which aimed to ban the discussion of gender identity, sexual orientation, and any related topics in schools. He has led a congressional hearing that attacked healthcare for transgender youth, and sponsored a bill that would have not only blocked trans youth healthcare nationwide, but also imprison doctors who provide care for up to 25 years. Johnson has opposed bills such as the Equality Act, the Respect for Marriage Act, the LGBTQI+ Data Inclusion Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the Violence Against Women Act.

The separation of church and state is guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Constitution. However, Speaker Johnson has allowed his religious beliefs to shape his political views, stating that the way to learn where he stands on any issue is to read the Bible. As Americans, it is important to not only stay vigilant of the increasingly extremist views held by those in power, but to remain active in local, state, and federal elections to bring the power back to the people.     

Adeesa is a junior at Pace University and Her Campus Pace's instagram assistant as well as a chapter contributor :) She posts on our chapter's Instagram page detailing information about our weekly meetings, promoting our club events, the publication of articles, and engaging content for our club members and followers. As for article writing, her pieces tend to be more news oriented (she's a poli sci major!). Adeesa enjoys spreading political awareness amongst her peers, and taking political issues that seem big and complex and making them easy to understand. Adeesa has been the Instagram assistant at HCP for two years, and previously was the Facebook assistant. In addition to Her Campus, Adeesa is a graphic designer for The Pace Press, Pace University's newspaper. She has been doing social media for three years now, since she was a junior in high school and promoting her Model UN team conferences. In her free time, Adeesa loves listening to music, watching rom-coms, and exploring New York. You can find her scrolling through TikTok, making (yet another) playlist, or at the nearest poke restaurant. If you need a poster designed or a friend to chat, Adeesa is your girl!