Rep. Mike Johnson is set to take his fight for the speakership to the House floor on Wednesday, a pivotal moment for House Republicans that comes amid uncertainty over whether the Louisiana lawmaker can secure the 217 votes needed to win the gavel.
Johnson, who serves as the House GOP conference vice chairman, secured the nomination for the speakership late Tuesday evening. The vote capped off a chaotic day that started with Republicans picking Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer to be their latest nominee only for him to drop out hours later after facing stiff resistance from the right flank of the conference and a rebuke from former President Donald Trump. The day ended with a vote to elect a new nominee – this time, Johnson won out.
The GOP conference is under increasing pressure as the House remains paralyzed without a speaker. But Republicans have so far struggled to unite behind a successor to Kevin McCarthy following his historic ouster. The vote to push out McCarthy plunged the House into uncharted territory and it has remained unclear whether any candidate can win the gavel in the aftermath of the unprecedented move.
Following the nomination vote, House Republicans took another vote to gauge the nominee’s support within the conference. There were around 20 members absent for that vote and Johnson can only lose four votes on the floor, creating uncertainty over whether he will have the needed votes for the gavel.
“Democracy is messy sometimes, but it is our system,” Johnson said Tuesday evening. “The intention is to go to the House floor tomorrow and make this official. So we will be doing that.”
Emmer was the third Republican to win the GOP nomination only to then exit the race after failing to lock up the necessary votes to win the gavel, following Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Steve Scalise also of Louisiana.
After winning the party nomination, Emmer faced swift opposition from the right flank of his conference as well as a rebuke from Trump. In a post on Truth Social, Trump called Emmer a “Globalist RINO,” and said that voting for him “would be a tragic mistake.”