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House Republicans ended their infighting and elected a speaker of the House

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Republicans have selected a new speaker of the House of Representatives.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Where three previous GOP candidates tried and failed, yesterday, Mike Johnson of Louisiana pulled it off.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PATRICK MCHENRY: Therefore, the honorable Mike Johnson of the state of Louisiana, having received a majority of the votes cast, is duly elected speaker of the House of Representatives for the...

MARTIN: And he was unanimously elected speaker by his Republican colleagues.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Eric McDaniel watched it all come together. He joins us from our studio in Washington, D.C. So, Eric, how did Johnson pull this off?

ERIC MCDANIEL, BYLINE: Yeah. So he's a social conservative guy from Louisiana, and he's known as a nice guy, which helped at a moment like this. He's known as a bit of a policy-minded person. He's also an evangelical, which played a big role in his acceptance speech, and his win's being celebrated by anti-abortion rights groups. He's long been allied with the former president, Trump. He was one of just a few folks chosen to defend Trump in his first impeachment trial. And like Kevin McCarthy before him, Johnson voted against certifying Biden's election win.

MARTÍNEZ: Was there a big GOP sigh of relief?

MCDANIEL: Folks were chanting his name as the vote got underway. It's hard to overstate just how relieved folks seem there right now. And in fact, placeholder speaker Patrick McHenry, who has cut a dour figure in the Capitol over the last few weeks, was all smiles as he presided over the vote yesterday. But even after cobbling together this win for Johnson, the hard part's probably still to come. The government shuts down next month, and Johnson has already had to waylay Congress' recess to buy himself some time to get something done to try and keep it open.

MARTÍNEZ: So what is it about Mike Johnson that got him all the votes that he needed?

MCDANIEL: Look. Like I said, he's a nice guy. On Tuesday night, as all of this was starting to come together, I was having a conversation with Florida Republican Kat Cammack. She told me about how kind she thinks Johnson is, which I have to imagine was really important after all these weeks of fighting. And also, former President Trump didn't badmouth him online, so that was good for him. It doomed a previous candidate. Folks were tired. Republicans were tired. Even the folks in Congress don't want to fight forever.

MARTÍNEZ: You would think - or you would hope.

MCDANIEL: Yeah.

MARTÍNEZ: I mean, that's what - yeah. So - OK. So what comes next, then?

MCDANIEL: A, I don't think anyone has looked particularly smart guessing about what's about to happen next with House Republicans over these last few weeks. We've had a lot of stops and starts. They've been through three different candidates before they got here. Mike Johnson pulled it off. But I'm going to guess - and don't @ me if I'm wrong - there's probably not much of a honeymoon period for him. In addition to funding the government, which, again, is going to be a big deal, hard thing by the middle of next month, they also need to figure out a plan for aid to Israel, whether they're going to send more support to support democracy in Ukraine. They've got their plates full. They're going to have to collaborate with Joe Biden, pair up with a Democratic-controlled Senate to get anything done, not to mention keep everybody united within their own caucus. And that's all going to be really, really hard.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Eric McDaniel. Eric, thanks.

MCDANIEL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Eric McDaniel edits the NPR Politics Podcast. He joined the program ahead of its 2019 relaunch as a daily podcast.
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