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5 things to know about House Speaker Mike Johnson

Mike Johnson.Ting Shen/Bloomberg

Republicans unanimously elected Rep. Mike Johnson as House speaker on Wednesday, elevating a deeply conservative but lesser-known leader to the seat of U.S. power and ending for now the political chaos in their majority.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was removed as speaker in an unprecedented vote earlier this month, after failing to withstand a rebellion among far-right dissidents over his support of a bill to avert a government shutdown. Since then, Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), Majority Leader Steve Scalise (La.) and Majority Whip Tom Emmer (Minn.) each tried and failed to secure the 217 votes needed to become speaker of the GOP-controlled House.

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Here are five things to know about Mike Johnson and his political views.


He opposed certifying the 2020 election

Johnson, 51, contested the results of the 2020 election - urging President Donald Trump to "stay strong and keep fighting" as he tried to overturn his loss to Joe Biden in the presidential race.

Johnson also objected to certifying Biden's electoral win and was one of the architects of a legal attack on the election that consisted of arguing that states' voting accommodations during the pandemic were unconstitutional. He led a group of 126 Republican lawmakers in filing an amicus brief to the Supreme Court alleging that authorities in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan "usurped" the constitutional authority of state legislatures when they loosened voting restrictions because of the pandemic. The court rejected the underlying complaint - filed by the state of Texas - due to lack of standing, and dismissed all other related motions, including the amicus brief.


He voted against further Ukraine aid

Johnson, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, was one of 57 lawmakers - all of them Republicans - who voted against a $39.8 billion aid package for Ukraine in May.

According to the Shreveport Times, Johnson explained his opposition to the bill by saying that the United States "should not be sending another $40 billion abroad when our own border is in chaos, American mothers are struggling to find baby formula, gas prices are at record highs, and American families are struggling to make ends meet, without sufficient oversight over where the money will go."

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Johnson has also called for more oversight of the aid sent to Ukraine - totaling more than $60 billion to date. In February, following a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the topic, he tweeted that American taxpayers "deserve to know if the Ukrainian government is being entirely forthcoming and transparent about the use of this massive sum of taxpayer resources."

While most GOP leaders continue to support U.S. aid to Ukraine, polls show growing skepticism among the party's rank and file, as well as a sharp drop in support for further military assistance among people who identify as Republicans.


He is antiabortion

Johnson, a constitutional lawyer who identifies as a Christian, opposes abortion and has celebrated the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that established constitutional protections for abortions nationwide.

"There is no right to abortion in the Constitution; there never was," Johnson told Fox News on the day the decision was announced, calling it "a great, joyous occasion."

The antiabortion nonprofit Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America gives Johnson an A+ ranking on this issue, stating that he "has voted consistently to defend the lives of the unborn and infants," including by "stopping hard-earned tax dollars from paying for abortion, whether domestically or internationally."

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He is a close ally of Donald Trump

Johnson is a close ally of Trump, having served on the former president's legal defense team during his two impeachment trials in the Senate.

He has called charges against Trump - which include a federal case relating to his attempts to overturn the 2020 election - "bogus," and has said the legal and political systems have treated Trump unfairly.


He supports LGBTQ restrictions

Johnson has positioned himself on the far right of the political spectrum on several social issues, even within the current conservative Republican conference. Notably, he introduced legislation last year - modeled after Florida's "don't say gay" bill - that would have prohibited discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as related subjects, at any institution that received federal funds. The Human Rights Campaign, a pro-LGBTQ civil rights organization, gave Johnson a score of 0 in its latest congressional scorecard.

Johnson also opposes gender-affirming care for minors and led a hearing on the subject in July. In a statement, he described gender-affirming care - meaning medical care that affirms or recognizes the gender identity of the person receiving the care, and which can include giving puberty or hormone blockers to minors under close monitoring from a doctor - as "adults inflicting harm on helpless children to affirm their world view."

Health-care bodies, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, say gender-affirming care is an appropriate form of treatment for people, including minors, who identify as transgender. But the issue is divisive in the United States: In a Washington Post-KFF poll conducted late last year, nearly 7 in 10 adults said they oppose allowing children ages 10 to 14 access to medication that stops the body from going through puberty, and nearly 6 in 10 oppose giving 15- to 17-year-olds access to hormone treatments.

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Marianna Sotomayor, Leigh Ann Caldwell, Jacqueline Alemany, Theodoric Meyer, Laura Meckler, Dan Balz, Emily Guskin and Scott Clement contributed to this report.