The weeks-long fight that finally gave Republican Rep. Mike Johnson the speaker’s gavel saw the rank-and-file members of the party buck the top members of House GOP leadership.
The House selected Johnson — the then-vice chairman of the House GOP conference — as speaker nominee Wednesday three weeks after former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was ousted from the position.
Johnson’s election to the speakership appears to have both empowered the rank-and-file members of the House GOP and showed they have the muscle to back it up.
Though Johnson held a leadership role before running for the speakership, higher-ranking Republicans were rejected after failing to win enough support from the party.
Three top House Republicans made their bids for speaker — House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana, Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota, and Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio — and all three bids failed with rank-and-file opposition, paving the path for Johnson’s election.
The larger conservative wing of the party also gained some steam with Johnson’s ascension to the gavel, as the new speaker is from among their numbers.
Ohio Rep. Warren Davidson, a Republican, told Fox News Digital that he sees Johnson’s speakership as both empowering the members and uniting them behind the House GOP agenda.
“Restoring unity in our GOP conference was not solely about the person, it was about having a shared mission,” Davidson said.
“Speaker Mike Johnson won on the first ballot with unanimous Republican consent, and I see this as empowering every member around our agenda,” he continued.
Additionally, the election of Johnson — a noted Christian conservative and former Republican Study Committee (RSC) chair — to the speakership could also be seen as the zenith of the Tea Party Revolution.
Florida Rep. Scott Franklin, a Republican, told Fox News Digital it’s “not hard to see why Speaker Johnson was elected unanimously by the conference.”
“If his record is any indication, he’ll bring people together to get things done without compromising principle—and we’ll always know where he stands,” Franklin said.
“That inspires trust and respect within the conference, something the past three weeks has proven exceedingly difficult to do,” the Florida congressman continued. “He’s exactly who we need to unite us and move forward.”
Franklin added that with “a looming government funding deadline, a crisis on our southern border and the Middle East on the brink of an all-out war, it’s crucial the House gets back to work delivering on the promises we made to Americans.”
Another House Republican lawmaker told Fox News Digital that Johnson’s speakership creates “more of a member-driven house.”
“It’s refreshing,” the lawmaker said.
“Speaker Johnson taking the gavel is the culmination of the GOP’s shift that started with the Tea Party revolution 13 years ago,” a House GOP aide told Fox News Digital.
“Leadership is catching up to the conference,” the aide continued.
The new speaker is inheriting a packed plate of issues he’ll have to take up that includes funding the government, aid for Israel and Ukraine amid their wars, and combating rising antisemitism in America.
Additionally, Johnson will have to balance the interests of the conservative wing with those of the House GOP moderates amid a slim four-seat majority.
The Louisiana Republican’s first bill as speaker was passing a House resolution in support of Israel in its war against the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas.
The newly-minted speaker told Fox News in his first television interview since gaining the gavel that the U.S. stands firmly behind Israel. But at home, lawmakers and the Biden administration alike must find common ground and acknowledge “God is not done” with America yet, Johnson said.
Johnson told “Hannity” the House is primed to proffer a $14.5 billion support bill for Israel, slightly more than what the Louisiana Republican said Israel – via the White House – has asked for.
In terms of potential U.S. military involvement in Israel’s fight for survival against Iran-backed Hamas, Johnson said he is hopeful to avert a boots-on-the-ground situation, but added that during a White House meeting Thursday he reminded President Biden’s staff that they have limited ability to directly respond without congressional approval.
Johnson added that he has met previously with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and agreed that while Americans talk of “existential threats” stateside, Israel faces one or more daily.
Fox News Digital’s Charles Creitz contributed reporting.