Mike Johnson picked as new GOP speaker nominee just hours after Tom Emmer drops bid

The House GOP picked Rep. Mike Johnson as their latest speaker nominee Tuesday evening, though the Louisiana Republican so far lacks the 217 votes needed to win the gavel – the latest sign that Republicans are still no closer to electing a new speaker three weeks after Kevin McCarthy’s historic ouster.

The vote for Johnson came at the end of a tumultuous day that began when Republicans voted to elect Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer as speaker nominee only for Emmer drop out just hours later amid stiff resistance from the right flank of the conference and a major rebuke from former President Donald Trump.

In the final round of secret-ballot voting, Johnson was elected speaker nominee with 128 votes. McCarthy received 43 votes, the next highest tally, and some House Republicans are blaming the California Republican for undercutting Johnson’s ascent. Ahead of Tuesday night’s votes, some members raised the idea of a McCarthy tag team with Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan to solve the speakership stalemate – with McCarthy returning as speaker and then making Jordan his “assistant speaker,” sources told CNN.

But in a positive development for his bid, Johnson survived a key follow-up vote late Tuesday evening, and he announced that the full House would vote on a speaker noon ET on Wednesday.

Republicans are under intensifying pressure to find a new leader as the House remains in a state of paralysis, and the GOP remains unable to govern without a speaker. The conference has repeatedly failed to coalesce around a successor to McCarthy amid deep division within its ranks – including for Jordan who was ousted as the party’s nominee on Friday after three unsuccessful rounds on the House floor.

The politically precarious situation has plunged the House into uncharted territory as it looks increasingly unclear whether any Republican can get the 217 votes needed to win the gavel.

Emmer is now the third Republican to win the nomination of the GOP conference only to then exit the race after failing to lock up the necessary votes to win the gavel.

After winning the party nomination in a secret ballot election on Tuesday, Emmer faced swift opposition from the right flank of his conference as well as a significant rebuke from former President Donald Trump. In a post on Truth Social, Trump called Emmer a “Globalist RINO,” and said that voting for him “would be a tragic mistake.” Trump later said he had a “big impact” after Emmer dropped out.

Emmer voted to certify the 2020 election, voted to keep the government open for 47 days, voted for the bipartisan law to avoid a debt default and voted to codify same-sex marriage – all issues that members of the hard-right had cited as issues for his candidacy.

Members of Trump’s team also called GOP members and urged them to oppose Emmer for speaker, two sources told CNN.

Despite a cordial phone call with the former president over the weekend, Trump reposted attacks against the House GOP whip on Truth Social Monday night and then followed up with his own attack after Emmer was nominated.

Leaving a GOP conference meeting Monday night, Emmer told CNN, “We have a good relationship,” when asked about Trump.

Following Emmer’s withdrawal from the race, Republican Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas warned that the GOP is at an “impasse” and said he doesn’t know if they’ll be able to resolve their internal differences and find a speaker.

“Right now, I think it is apparent to the American people that the GOP conference is hopelessly divided. Can it be overcome? Never say never,” he said. “But the signs are right now that this conference is at some kind of an impasse.”

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Sam Fossum, Morgan Rimmer and Laura Dolan contributed to this report.

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