House Republicans have selected “a tremendous man of God,” “a strong Christian,” a “servant leader,” and a “genuinely nice guy” by elevating Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) to the position of Speaker of the House, according to those closest to the legislator.
After 22 days without their top leader, House Republicans elected Johnson speaker by a 220-209 vote on Wednesday, winning the unanimous support of the chamber’s Republicans. All 209 dissenting votes went to House Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.). Johnson needed only 215 votes, as 429 congressmen were present; Rep. Vicente Gonzalez Jr. (R-Texas), Lou Correa (R-Calif.), and Derrick Van Orden (R-Wisc.) did not attend the vote.
“It is the honor of a lifetime to have been elected the 56th Speaker of the House,” said Johnson moments after his victory. “It has been an arduous few weeks, and a reminder that the House is as complicated and diverse as the people we represent.”
“I don’t believe there are any coincidences in a matter like this. I believe that Scripture, the Bible is very clear that God is the One that raises up those in authority. He raised up each of you, all of us. And I believe that God has ordained and allowed each one of us to be brought here for this specific moment and this time,” Johnson continued. “I believe that each one of us has a huge responsibility today to use the gifts that God has given us to serve the extraordinary people of this great country — and they deserve it — and to ensure that our republic remains standing as the great beacon of light and hope and freedom in a world that desperately needs it.”
He went on to note previous generations chose the national motto, “In God we trust,” as “a rebuke of the Cold War-era philosophy of the Soviet Union. That philosophy was Marxism and communism which begins with the premise that there is no God,” a “critical distinction” between atheistic socialism and our faith-based democratic republic.” America’s founders, said Johnson, believed “all men are created equal — not born equal, created equal,” and Americans need to “remember our creed.” He also shared that he was once inspired by seeing the carving of the face of Moses, which adorns the chamber.
Johnson took a moment to praise the faithful Christians in his life, as well. After acknowledging his colleagues, Johnson thanked his four children and wife, Kelly — an adviser to Louisiana Right to Life, teacher, and Christian counselor who had not yet gotten a flight to the nation’s capital to be at his side. “She spent the last couple of weeks on her knees, in prayer to the Lord, and she’s a little worn out,” he explained. After remembering his late father, a Shreveport fireman, Johnson said, “I want to thank my faithful mother, Jeanne Johnson, who bore me at the age of 17.”
Johnson directly quoted the Bible at a conference on Capitol Hill after the vote. “I was reminded of the Scripture that says suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope. What this country needs is more hope,” he said. “Congress over the years has not delivered for the American people enough.”
Prayer has been a recurrent theme of Johnson’s decisions about who should to serve as Speaker of the House. “In January, [Rep. Mike Johnson] joined me on the House floor while we were in a deadlock over who our next Speaker would be. We lifted up the speaker’s race to the Lord and asked for his divine guidance. Immediately after the prayer, 14 members changed their votes, ultimately leading to Speaker McCarthy securing the gavel by the end of the day,” noted Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) two hours before the vote. “Mike Johnson is a strong conservative, but above all else, he is a strong Christian. He’s not afraid to look to his faith for guidance.”
“America needs that more than ever in the U.S. House,” noted Steube.
In his announcement for speaker, Johnson wrote that only “after much prayer and deliberation, I am stepping forward now.” On Tuesday night, Johnson’s first act after winning the Republican conference’s nomination was to ask his fellow Republicans to join him in prayer.
The Johnson family attends Cypress Baptist Church in Benton, Louisiana, where Pastor John Fream described the new Speaker of the House as “a tremendous man of God, a historian, constitutional expert, biblical scholar and great family man,” as well as a “humble servant” who — together with his wife, Kelly — is “willing to follow the Lord wherever and however He leads.”
‘We’ve Been Praying for This’
Praise rained in on Johnson, the 51-year-old vice chair of the House Republican conference, for his voting record, faith, personality, and willingness to stand up for a biblical worldview.
Johnson “radiates the love of Christ,” Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) told “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” on Wednesday. The new Speaker of the House is “full of love of Jesus,” in addition to being an “effective scholar.” House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) noted Johnson’s “faith that drives him so deeply that some actually mock him,” but he holds to “the principles that make this country great.” He predicted the American “people are going to come to know and love what he represents.” Others praised Johnson’s low-key personality. “Mike epitomizes servant leadership,” said Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) — who spoke on behalf of Reps. Kevin McCarthy, Scalise, Jim Jordan, and Johnson during speaker votes.
“I’m so proud of Mike,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins told Newsmax on Wednesday afternoon. “I’ve known Mike for 25 years, and he’s going to be an excellent speaker for the times in which we live. … He has sense of purpose, and that comes from his faith. He’s a strong believer.” Perhaps most importantly, Johnson “cares about people,” said Perkins. “It’s going to be a new day” in the nation’s capital.
“We’ve been praying for this. We’ve been praying for leaders who have a fear of God” and “a biblical foundation of truth,” said Green. “This is a moment to stop what you’re doing and thank God for this.”
A Conviction Politician
Since his election to Congress in 2016, Mike Johnson has earned a lifetime FRC Action score of 99.4%, reflecting his sterling pro-life, pro-family voting record. Last October, Johnson introduced the Stop Sexualization of Children Act, which would have barred federal funding from any sexually oriented school material intended for children under the age of 10. “[P]arents and legal guardians have the right and responsibility to determine where, if, when, and how their children are exposed to material of a sexual nature,” it states.
In House hearings, Johnson has strongly denounced transgender surgeries on minors as “barbarism. This is the mutilation of children, and it should be prohibited by our law. … This is adults deciding to permanently alter the bodies of children who do not have the capacity to make life-altering decisions on their own.” Johnson called the extreme gender ideology underlying these experimental surgeries “nightmarish and surreal.”
Johnson has acted as lead sponsor of pro-life legislation, as well. Johnson “has boldly championed life as an activist, litigator, state legislator, and as a member of Congress,” said SBA Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “Rep. Mike Johnson is a pro-life champion with an A+ on SFLAction’s Pro-Life Generation Report Card,” said SLFAction President Kristan Hawkins. Speaker Johnson “will make the right to life and protecting women and their unborn children a priority in Congress,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life.
That record also earned him the ire of the abortion lobby. Reproductive Freedom for All (formerly NARAL Pro-Choice America) branded Johnson “a dangerous threat to reproductive freedom, just like the rest of his caucus.” EMILY’s List stated, “Unlike the new speaker, we know abortion care is health care.”
Other Democrats denounced Johnson for his defense of biblical marriage and sexual morality. Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.), who openly identifies as a lesbian, shouted “Happy anniversary to my wife!” as she voted for Jeffries during Johnson’s successful speaker vote. House Democrats applauded her outburst.
A constitutional attorney, Johnson advised President Donald Trump during both impeachments. He has voted against every transfer of U.S. taxpayer funds to the government of Ukraine, which has cracked down on religious liberty. And he noted that then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to rip up the official copy of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address constituted a felony. “He will be a great Speaker of the House,” said Donald Trump after the election, calling Johnson “a tremendous leader” who is “going to make us all proud.” Trump, who previously endorsed Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), promptly noted that he had “put out the word” for others to back Johnson before the vote.
Johnson is an across-the-board conservative who earned a 90% score from the Heritage Action scorecard, as well as an A+ from SBA Pro-Life America, 72% from Freedom Index (constitutional order), and 90% from the immigration watchdog NumbersUSA. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) called Johnson “a fellow conservative and a man of deep Christian faith.” Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, attested that Johnson is “a proven conservative who is honorable, smart, and will do a great job leading the House Republican Conference.”
Before his election to Congress, Johnson served as a national spokesman for the Alliance Defending Freedom and a trustee of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), then led by conservative scholar Dr. Richard Land. A constitutional attorney and onetime talk show host, Johnson won FRC’s “Family, Family, and Freedom Award” in 2005 for successfully defending his state’s constitutional marriage protection amendment before the Louisiana Supreme Court. As a Louisiana legislator, he proposed a Marriage and Conscience Act, which would not allow politicians to withhold or cancel the state occupational licenses of workers with a religious objection to same-sex marriage.
“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’ defending religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and biblical values,” explained Johnson to a Louisiana Baptist newspaper when he first ran for national office in 2016.
Johnson became the fourth Speaker of the House candidate endorsed by the House Republicans, who had previously nominated Scalise, Jordan, and Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.). Emmer, one of just 39 House Republicans to vote twice for the so-called “Respect for Marriage” Act, withdrew without proceeding to a floor vote hours after winning the nomination. Former President Donald Trump came out swinging against Emmer, saying the “Republican Party cannot take that chance,” because “America First voters” will not support “a Globalist RINO [Republican In Name Only] like Tom Emmer.”
An Ambitious Agenda to Rebuild America as Speaker of the House
In his victory speech, Johnson laid out an ambitious agenda to rebuild American strength and regain the trust of the American people, which he said Congress stands “in jeopardy” of losing. “A strong America is good for the entire world. We are the beacon of freedom, and we must preserve this grand experiment in self-governance,” he said.
Johnson referred to rising international tensions in Israel and China, as well as soaring prices, and interest and mortgage rates at home. Johnson “has a keen understanding of the threat posed by China and the urgent need to pass legislation to counter the CCP, including important trade policy issues like tariffs and repealing China’s Most Favored Nation Status,” said Michael Stumo of the Coalition for a Prosperous America. Two-thirds of voters were more likely to support a candidate who favors tougher economic policies and higher tariffs against China; and 66% of voters say the Pentagon “needs to do more to prepare for military threats from China,” although a plurality oppose sending U.S. troops to fight the People’s Liberation Army on behalf of Taiwan, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Johnson then mentioned the porous southern border, which had led to an unprecedented influx of fentanyl and a record-breaking number of American overdose deaths. “The status quo is unacceptable. Inaction is unacceptable, and we must come together and address the broken border,” he said to massive applause from the chamber’s Republicans.
“The greatest threat to our national security is our nation’s debt,” which now stands at more than $33 trillion and increased $20 million during his relatively brief speech. He promised to form a bipartisan commission on reducing the national debt and “bring relief to the American people by reining in federal spending and bringing down inflation.”
“We will defend our core principles to the end,” he said, citing “the seven core principles of American conservatism”: individual freedom, limited government, the rule of law, peace through strength, fiscal responsibility, free markets, and human dignity.
Johnson promised to return to normal order on the nation’s budget and appropriations process, to decentralize power away from the speaker’s office, and to preside over an ethical and transparent tenure as speaker.
“Our system of government is not a perfect system. It’s got a lot of challenges, but it’s still the best one in the world, and we have an opportunity to preserve it,” Johnson exhorted Congress. “The time for action is now, and I will not let you down.”
“Let the enemies of freedom around the world hear us loud and clear: The people’s House is back in business!”
Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) then swore in Johnson as the 56th Speaker of the House.
Rep. Roy summed up the Republican Party conference’s consensus with one word: “Onward.”
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.
EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.
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