Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson’s Leadership in Limbo Amid Factional Strife

U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson
U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson. Credit | AP Photo

United States – U.S.  House Speaker Mike Johnson arrives at his early Thursday morning meeting having successfully seen off an effort to end his leadership, but his future as head of a Republican caucus still remains in doubt as it is split between warring factions.

Johnson wasn’t popular and wasn’t well-known as a member of the house until October. Still, after the ugly leadership fight that followed his predecessor’s second to the president, he emerged as the powerful Republican leader second in line to the presidency, as reported by Reuters.

Johnson’s Rise to Power

On Wednesday, he weathered an attempt by Republican hardliner Marjorie Taylor Greene to depose him as Speaker of the House of Representatives. Still, he was saved by the support of the vast majority of the Republicans (217-213) and a tweet from Presidential candidate Donald Trump. Many Democrats picked Johnson for the same reason as October’s chaos.

Since occupying the speaker’s gavel, Johnson has cast away the narrow and realized views of a relatively untested congressman from northwest Louisiana who had served for his fourth term in the House to the political realities of national leadership. This development, though, triggered serious concerns among several Republican hardliners who thought it would definitely reduce his likelihood of retaining the position of Republican House leader next year, even after the Nov.  5 elections and if the party still holds the majority.

“I’m proud to serve in this position. It’s not one that I aspired to, nor one that I ever expected to have or planned for,” Johnson said after Wednesday’s vote. But it is the honor of my life and career to do this, and I will do it so long as this body will have me do that.”

As an outsider, McCarthy won the speaker’s gavel last October at the age of 52. His likeability and lack of political friends were not great advantages. He opposed US aid to Ukraine, supported strict border measures, and brought strong Christian conservative credentials on abortion.

He had also managed House Republican’s challenges to the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, giving way to Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that he was cheated of the presidency because of voter fraud. Those claims, and the GOP Congressional members support, spawned the violence that ended with the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan 6, 2021.


The eventuality is that the speaker now has the Democrats to depend on to avert the shutdown of the government, shield US efforts against terrorism, aid Ukraine in their fight against Russian invasion, and now save his job.

“He learned there was another side of the story. That’s what leaders do. They’re not dug in on their positions,” said Representative Brian Fitzpatrick, a Republican centrist from Pennsylvania.

Over the last week, the congressman met several times with hardliners Greene and Massie and took questions from both. Later, he admitted that it was part of his strategy to communicate with the Republican conference and that he spent an “endless hour” talking to all of them.

“It takes a lot of time. This is why I don’t get enough sleep these days,” Johnson said.

“You have to quite literally get everyone to work together,” he added. I take Marjorie’s ideas, Thomas’s, and everybody else’s, and we assess them on their own value.”

Bipartisan Support and Criticism

Notably, Johnson’s handling of spending bills and assistance to U.S. allies has garnered acceptance from both Republicans and some Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, the ex-House Speaker.

Some Republicans claim his status as a party leader has been weakened by his Democratic support for removing McCarthy, who was a very potent Speaker known for his fundraising talent and political acumen.

“He’s a better speaker for them than some of the other options, not because he’s willing to work with them, but because you can outflank him,” said one House Republican who spoke anonymously.

This Republican legislative body even voted for Johnson’s protection this very week.  They thought Democrats, on the other hand, would appreciate Johnson’s underlying conservative credentials.  This is the view reiterated by the progressive Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as reported by Reuters.

“Mike Johnson is still a dangerous leader who seeks to strip abortion rights and who also supported overturning the election and setting the stage for Jan. 6,” she told reporters.