Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who led the effort to oust former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, has joined in a chorus of Republicans supporting the new House speaker nominee, Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La.
After Republicans spent most of Tuesday behind closed doors selecting Johnson as the new GOP speaker candidate, Gaetz praised him as a ‘good godly man who’s going to advance Republicans.’ The Florida Republican also told a group of reporters that his colleague is the ‘best possible candidate’ as the GOP looks to finally elect a speaker after McCarthy was voted out of the position three weeks ago.
One issue in particular that attracted conference members to Johnson was his support for single subject appropriations bills, or spending bills that fund one department or initiative at a time rather than a spending package that can force members to support some spending levels they would be uncomfortable with otherwise supporting, Gaetz said.
‘He talks about single subject spending bills being the organizing principle in the House of Representatives. That is what I’ve been fighting for since January,’ Gaetz said of Johnson. ‘It is the reason Kevin McCarthy was vacated and despite the swamps, best efforts, we got a good godly man who’s going to advance Republicans.’
A majority of Republicans backed Johnson, who received 128 votes in the final round of votes, with Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., getting 29, sources confirmed to Fox News Digital. Other candidates, including McCarthy, received votes.
Johnson said he was ‘honored’ to have the support of his colleagues and exhibit ‘servant leadership’ in Congress.
‘We’re going to serve the people of this country. We’re going to restore their faith in this Congress, in this institution of government,’ Johnson said.
He added, ‘We’re going to govern well. We’re going to do what’s right by the people, and believe people are going to reward that next year.’
House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., won multiple rounds of voting earlier in the day to become the party’s nominee but ultimately withdrew his candidacy in the face of staunch opposition from within the conference, as well as former President Trump.
Speaking with reporters Tuesday, Gaetz said there were efforts within the committee to try and prevent Johnson from winning the nomination, but his supporters ultimately succeeded in getting him across the finish line.
‘Well, Kevin McCarthy did everything we could to scuttle Mike Johnson without announcing his candidacy, and he had, like, 40 people vote to try to create a balance against anybody getting to 217 but we scoped him out,’ Gaetz said. ‘We have votes for Mike Johnson across the board. And from some of these conservative members of our conference to some of our freight liners. There was enthusiastic support for this transformation.’
The Floridian said he had ‘nothing bad to say about those other candidates’ but that the consensus process — which ‘sometimes it takes a little longer’ — ultimately ‘demands consensus.’
‘This process clearly demanded consensus, and it led to the best possible candidate,’ Gaetz said.
Gaetz’s praise for Johnson echoes that of some of his Republican colleagues, who are hopeful this latest nominee — the fourth after Rep. Steve Scalise, R.-La., Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Emmer — will become the next House speaker.
Scalise released a statement Tuesday calling Johnson ‘honest, hardworking, and principled.’
‘He is a great man and will make a great speaker. I look forward to continuing to work with my good friend to get this country back on track and deliver results for American families who deserve better from Washington,’ Scalise said.
Rep. Ben Cline, R-Va., told Fox News Digital, ‘All the different factions came together, and we’re confident that the members who weren’t here will recognize the unity that we have [and] importance of the mission ahead.’
Rep. Russell Fry, R-SC, told Fox News that he felt ‘great’ with Johnson as the nominee.
‘Mike Johnson was the consensus pick, he’s a great guy, he’s well trusted,’ he said. ‘And I think overwhelmingly tonight the conference is ready to stand behind him on the floor tomorrow, and he is going to lead us over the next year and a half as we continue our work as the House Republican majority. ‘
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., agreed, saying Republicans ‘are unified.’
‘Oh, yeah, absolutely,’ Diaz-Balart said when asked about supporting Johnson. ‘I think we are, we are unified. I think we are confident and we’re unified. You know, democracy is sometimes sloppy. ‘
A vote for Johnson’s speakership is expected on Wednesday afternoon, however, both Scalise and Emmer dropped their candidacy before receiving a full floor vote.
Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-NC, has remained the speaker pro tempore, overseeing only minimal House protocols, since McCarthy’s exit.
Fox News’ Kelly Phares, Elizabeth Elkind and Houston Keene contributed to this report.