Speaker Race: House Prepares to Vote on Mike Johnson

House Republicans on Wednesday morning were racing toward a vote to elect Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana as speaker, hoping to bring an end to a tumultuous three-week stretch of party infighting that has left the chamber paralyzed.

Republicans were rallying behind Mr. Johnson, a little-known social conservative from Louisiana, ahead of a vote on the House floor expected early Wednesday afternoon. He secured the nomination late Tuesday night in a yet another head-spinning turn of events in the Republican speaker saga, after the hard right blocked a third contender for the post, Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota.

While it was not certain he could muster a majority, Mr. Johnson, 51, appeared to have the best chance of any Republican who has emerged from the mayhem in recent days to win the speakership. The post has been up for grabs since the far right forced a vote this month to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy. In an internal party vote on Tuesday night, Mr. Johnson faced little opposition, though more than 20 Republicans were absent.

Because of his party’s slim majority, he can afford to lose no more than four Republican votes if all Democrats are present and voting for their own leader, Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, as they have consistently. A majority is needed to prevail.

Mr. Johnson, 51, a lawyer who played a leading role in congressional efforts to overturn the 2020 election, was his party’s fourth nominee for speaker in the weekslong battle that has left the House leaderless at a time of crises at home and abroad. It has also exposed bitter, often personally animated divisions among the Republican majority. Over nearly four weeks, House Republicans have toppled three of their own nominees for the post.

“We’re going to restore your trust,” Mr. Johnson said at a news conference on Tuesday night, flanked by Republicans. “We’re going to do this quickly, this group here is ready to govern and we’re going to govern well.”

That was just hours after Republicans spurned another speaker nominee, Mr. Emmer of Minnesota, the No. 3 Republican. But many G.O.P. lawmakers appeared to be ready to move past the embarrassingly public round of feuding, which has tarnished their party’s brand and damaged their political prospects.

“Healing is going to take a while,” said Representative Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, who was supporting Mr. Johnson. “There are a lot of different things that have happened since the speaker’s race. I think that Mike has a good of an ability as anybody to be an honest broker about how that happens.”

Because Republicans have a razor-thin majority, any small bloc of lawmakers who decide to oppose him could block his ascent to the top job. But in a sign that gave Mr. Johnson and his allies hope, both mainstream and hard-right lawmakers who previously blocked speaker candidates have said they are prepared to back Mr. Johnson on the House floor.

“He’s very much a man of faith, he’s a constitutional attorney,” said Representative John Rutherford of Florida, who was one of several lawmakers who opposed Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio as speaker. “He knows the law, he knows the system; he knows the institution, and I think that’s going to make him spectacular as a speaker.”

Representative Chip Roy of Texas, an influential conservative who opposed Mr. Emmer, had also led a bloc of holdouts during the election of Mr. McCarthy as speaker in January. He said Mr. Johnson had a “really good understanding of where the American people are right now.”

“He’s the right man for the right time,” Mr. Roy said.

Mr. Johnson, who is in his fourth term in the House, is the former chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee. He served on former President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment defense team, played a leading role in recruiting House Republicans to sign a legal brief supporting a lawsuit seeking to overturn the 2020 election results and was an architect of Mr. Trump’s bid to object to certifying them in Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.

Mr. Trump effectively endorsed Mr. Johnson on Wednesday morning, writing on social media: “My strong SUGGESTION is to go with the leading candidate, Mike Johnson, & GET IT DONE, FAST!”

Mr. Johnson has opposed continued funding for the war in Ukraine, which has emerged as a bitter fault line in the G.O.P. and in the spending battles that any new speaker will have to navigate in the coming days.

The lawmaker, an evangelical Christian, is deeply opposed to abortion rights. And last year, he sponsored legislation that would effectively bar the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity at any institution serving children younger than 10 that receives federal funds.

In a secret-ballot vote on Tuesday night, Mr. Johnson got 128 votes, with 44 Republicans voting for nominees not on the ballot, including 43 for Mr. McCarthy, whom many view as unfairly ousted. Still, in a separate vote afterward, only a few Republicans indicated they would not back Mr. Johnson on the floor, while about 20 Republicans were absent.

Kayla Guo contributed reporting.

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