Who is the Trump-backed Speaker of the House Mike Johnson?

Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., candidate for speaker of the House, is seen outside a House Republican Conference election meeting in Longworth Building on Tuesday, October 24, 2023.
Mike Johnson, a lawyer and former talk radio host, has been a member of US congress since 2017

After several unsuccessful candidacies and three chaotic weeks, Louisiana Republican Mike Johnson managed last month to unite his party behind him as the Speaker of the House.

Now, he faces yet another challenge on the House floor: securing enough votes to approve a plan to temporarily fund the government and avert yet another federal shutdown.

Mr Johnson, a social conservative lawmaker, has allies among the most fiery right-wing figures in American politics, including former President Donald Trump.

But his reputation as well-liked House member who is respected by different factions of his party, from the most conservative to the more moderate, likely helped him secure the Speaker's gavel.

The lawyer and a former talk radio host has represented the 4th district of Louisiana since 2017.

He had been serving his fourth term as Vice Chairman of the House Republican Conference, and also held positions on two influential House committees - Judiciary and Armed Services.

An evangelical Christian, Mr Johnson has previously defended Louisiana's ban on same-sex marriage in 2004.

In 2022, he introduced a bill that would have banned schools from promoting or discussing gender identity.

Mr Johnson also has been vocal in his opposition for abortion rights, calling the overturning of Roe v Wade a "great, joyous occasion".

"I am a Christian, a husband, a father, a life-long conservative, constitutional law attorney and a small business owner in that order," he told the Louisiana Baptist Message newspaper in 2016.

By the hard right, Mr Johnson is viewed a loyalist of Mr Trump and a fellow staunch conservative. Moderate Republicans see him as a pragmatic and level-headed leader who can maintain conservative values while still passing legislation.

"He's one of those people who gets along with everybody and is well-respected," Colorado Republican Ken Buck told CNN.

Mr Trump, who has publicly spoken out against other Republican nominees for Speaker, praised Mr Johnson during his run for speaker.

"I haven't heard one negative comment about him," Mr Trump said outside a Manhattan court in October, where he was attending his civil fraud trial.

"Everybody likes him, he's respected by all," he said.

Mr Johnson has close ties with conservative firebrand Jim Jordan, the Ohio lawmaker who had a failed Speaker bid the week before Mr Johnson won the office. Some have described Mr Jordan as a mentor to the congressman.

His politics have also been compared to that of former Vice-President Mike Pence, another devout evangelical Republican.

When nominating Mr Johnson on the floor of the House last month, Elise Stefanik, the chair of the Republican conference, called him a "dedicated servant" and "titan" who has committed his life to "America's great principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".

Democrats, however, have criticized his role in trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Joe Neguse, a Democrat House Representative from Colorado, called him "one of the architects" of that effort in an interview with the Washington Post.

"I find that deeply problematic and I suspect the vast majority of Americans would agree with that assessment," he said.

Still, many Democrats applauded him during a collegial moment on the House floor when he was officially named Speaker on 25 October.

As he was handed the gavel after his win, Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries called him a "family man, a hardworking man, a Baptist man, a Southern man, a son of a firefighter's household".

Despite any criticism, Mr Johnson achieved what none of his other colleagues in the race for Speaker could: a quick, decisive win.

His predecessor, Republican Kevin McCarthy, needed 15 rounds of votes before he secured enough support.

Mr McCarthy was ousted on 3 October by a small band of right-wing lawmakers after he forged a deal with President Biden to keep the government funded.

Mr Johnson has had an important role before him. Without a Speaker, the US had been unable to pass any bills, including a massive aid package for Ukraine and Israel proposed by President Biden.

Some House Republicans - including allies of Mr Johnson's - have increasingly opposed more aid to Ukraine, but Mr Johnson said he would focus his first efforts on funds for Israel, one of the few areas of bipartisan agreement.

"In just a few moments, this entire group is going to go back to the House floor. And we're going to pass our resolution in support of the nation of Israel, our closest ally," he said.