Top 10 stories of 2023: Johnson named Speaker of the House

Published 12:07 pm Wednesday, January 3, 2024

U.S. Congressman Mike Johnson easily secured enough votes in October to be elected House speaker, ending three weeks of political chaos at the Capitol.

Now the U.S. House of Representatives’ top two leaders are both from Louisiana; Majority Leader Steve Scalise holds the second-highest position in House Republican leadership.

Johnson — elected to Congress in 2016 by the largest margin of victory in his region in more than 50 years — is from Bossier City and served as legal counsel for Louisiana Right to Life and chief counsel of Freedom Guard, a not-for-profit, public interest law firm that “works to defend religious liberty, the sanctity of human life, marriage and the family.”

As a freshman congressman, Johnson led the effort to change the tone in Washington by asking his fellow lawmakers to sign the Pledge of Civility. The late civil rights leader John Lewis also dotted his name on the line. “We need to listen to each other; people expect us to act like grown-ups, and we should,” he told the American Press in 2018.

Prior to serving in the U.S. House, Johnson served in the Louisiana Legislature from February 2015 to January 2017.

Before Johnson’s election to speaker, the House was without a leader for 21 days after ousting Kevin McCarthy for striking a deal with Democrats to pass a 45-day stopgap funding bill to avert a federal government shutdown. U.S. Congressman Clay Higgins, R-Louisiana, said Johnson is “the right man to unify and lead our Republican Majority.”

Chuck Kleckley, a Lake Charles native and former Republican member of the House of Representatives District 36 who served as Louisiana Speaker of the House from 2012 to 2016 said Johnson has “zero ego.”

“Probably the last thing he was thinking about was being speaker of the house and he is in it for the right reason, to make America a better country and better for the hardworking taxpayer,” Kleckly said.

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