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Republicans confident as new Speaker vote begins – BBC News


Video caption,

Watch: Mike Johnson in his own words

The US House of Representatives is voting on a fourth Speaker nominee, a day after the last candidate withdrew as Donald Trump assailed him.

The full chamber is voting on Louisiana congressman Mike Johnson’s bid for the gavel.

Mr Johnson was chosen after three rounds in an internal party ballot late on Tuesday.

The House has been leaderless and unable to pass bills since Kevin McCarthy was ousted on 3 October.

Mr Johnson, 51, was put forward just hours after the last nominee, Majority Whip Tom Emmer, dropped out after failing to attract enough support.

When nominating Mr Johnson on the floor of the House, Elise Stefanik, the chair of the Republican conference, called him a “dedicated servant” and “titan” who has dedicated his life to “America’s great principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

But Democrat Pete Aguilar called him “the most important architect of electoral college objections” to the 2020 presidential vote and said he was beholden to Mr Trump.

Republicans are confident that Mr Johnson can pull in the 217 votes he needs to win, but if he fails, they will be back to the drawing board.

In voting earlier on Tuesday Mr Johnson came in second place to Mr Emmer, before the Minnesota representative withdrew after former President Trump derided him on social media as a “Globalist”.

According to Politico, Mr Trump called one person minutes before Mr Emmer dropped out of the race and said: “He’s done. It’s over. I killed him.”

But as he arrived at a New York court for his civil fraud trial on Wednesday morning, Mr Trump talked up Mr Johnson’s prospects, saying “it looks like it’s going to happen”.

“I haven’t heard one negative comment about him,” he said. “Everybody likes him, he’s respected by all.”

In the final round of internal party voting on Tuesday Mr Johnson received 128 votes while Byron Donald, a Florida Republican, came in second with 29.

The party holds a narrow majority over Democrats in the lower chamber of Congress, so their nominee can only afford to lose a handful of votes from their own side to win.

“Democracy is messy sometimes, but it is our system,” Mr Johnson said on Tuesday night.

Dusty Johnson, a moderate Republican from South Dakota, told reporters: “It’s a little hard to imagine how anyone can get elected at this point.”

Steve Womack, an Arkansas Republican, said: “Pretty sad commentary on governance right now.”

Video caption,

Watch: Trump: ‘Most people are Maga in the Republican Party’

But Ralph Norman, an ultraconservative South Carolina Republican, said: “This is what democracy looks like.”

Mr Johnson is a lawyer and former talk radio host who has served on the House since 2016. He is also the former chairman of the Republican Study Committee and is considered a close ally of Mr Jordan.

In 2020, Mr Johnson was considered a key player in the bid to object to President Joe Biden’s victory in that year’s presidential election.

The last Speaker, Mr McCarthy, was ousted by a small band of right-wing lawmakers led after he forged a deal with President Biden to keep government funded.



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