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Newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson speaks after his election at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 25, 2023. House Republicans, led by Johnson, passed a $14.3 billion Israel aid package tied to cuts in IRS funding, triggering a clash with Democrats over tax law enforcement that risks delaying U.S. financial help. Photo permission from Tom Brenner/AFP/Getty Images/TNS.

House elects Mike Johnson as new speaker

On Oct. 25, Mike Johnson was made the new speaker of the house by a majority vote and was sworn in on the same day. The majority of the House of Representatives voted in favor of Republican Florida Representative Matt Gaetz on Oct. 3 to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from office, setting up an impromptu “snap” election for the new speaker.

“It was actually really awful. I felt really bad for [McCarthy],” senior Dylan Shinn said. “I really think the world and politics [would] definitely be a better place without [this situation].”

A snap election is essentially an election that happens far earlier than usual because of unusual circumstances at play, in this case someone being voted out which means another speaker is needed sooner than usual.

“[McCarthy] fought through 15 votes in January to become speaker, but was only willing to fight through one failed C.R. before surrendering to the Democrats on Saturday,” Rep. Bob Good said in a floor speech. “We need a speaker who will fight for something, anything besides just staying or becoming speaker.”

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Votes in the chamber of the House of Representatives were counted, all of the Democrats in attendance in the house voted to oust McCarthy, with eight Republicans voting to vacate the seat. These eight Republicans included representatives Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, Ken Buck, Tim Burchett, Eli Cran, Good, Nancy Mace and Matt Rosendale.

“[Party infighting] is a bad thing, we shouldn’t have arguing in between your own groups,” Mayor said. “There can be arguments, but they shouldn’t be going against their own. It makes sense that they voted [McCarthy] out but there should be more peace in-between groups.”

McCarthy was ousted by his own party, with Rep. Patrick McHenry serving as the temporary speaker under House rules.

Johnson was elected by an eleven vote difference, beating Democrat nominee Hakeem Jeffries. Every Republican in attendance voted for Johnson. In Johnson’s speech after taking the position, he thanked the previous speaker McCarthy for his contributions during his time.

Every year congress makes a plan for how taxpayer money will be spent, and if the debt ceiling is reached or a budget is not set the U.S. ‘defaults’ on its debt. which causes government facilities to temporarily shut down. Entitlement programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicare, Medicaid, and many others, are affected, along with federal employees having their pay withheld.

“My dad is in law enforcement, he was almost affected by the government shutdown,” Shinn said. “I believe that the main cause of this government shutdown is the US always giving out money and not having enough money for our government.”

The criticisms surrounding McCarthy in his party consist of his siding with Democrats in order to pass the spending bill. McCarthy’s first attempt at a budget on September 29 involved large spending cuts and strict border policies but failed to pass. The day after, McCarthy introduced a temporary funding bill without large spending cuts but also without Ukraine funding.

“The US should be spending on its own country right now instead of having to worry about other countries, they should worry about bettering their own nation,” sophomore Isabel Mayor said. “Funding Ukraine brings us to other problems with Russia.”

The budget was passed with the support of the Democrats three hours before the deadline, narrowly avoiding a government shutdown and was signed by President Joe Biden without Ukrainian aid.

“We cannot under any circumstances allow America’s support for Ukraine to be interrupted,” Biden said to reporters. “I fully expect the speaker to keep his commitment to secure the passage and support needed to help Ukraine as they defend themselves against aggression and brutality.”

“I don’t believe Ukraine funding situation should be here, because we are actually four trillion dollars in debt…” Shinn said. “…we don’t have enough money to pay for our own things and this causes inflation… We shouldn’t be giving money out to these different countries.”

The movement to remove McCarthy from his speaker position was led by the Florida republican Gaetz who argued McCarthy should be ousted. Gaetz’s threat of removing McCarthy from his position has been used several times before.

“There shouldn’t be secret side deals made on a continuing resolution to lump Ukraine in with border security,” Gaetz said. “It fails to give either of those issues the dignity that they would require…”

After the votes were counted, the seat of speaker of the House was officially declared vacant.

This was the first time the House of Representatives has ever voted out a speaker. A majority vote on the floor is needed to remove the speaker from their job, the same as electing the speaker.

“I do not regret negotiating, our government is designed to find compromise,” McCarthy said in his closing statement after being ousted.

He went on record saying he will not attempt to hold the office of speaker again. It is unclear yet if Ukraine funding will still have continued support in the house. Johnson being speaker may have unprecedented effects with his far-right views, but nothing has yet happened as he has only held his position for a short time.

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About the Contributor
Natalia Dzielnicka
Natalia Dzielnicka, Reporter
Natalia Dzielnicka is a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She enjoys reading books, biking and helping out in Marjory's Garden.
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