Listen Live

As members of the House struggle to elect a speaker, there has been one voice of calm over 11 turbulent roll calls.

>> Read more trending news

House Clerk Cheryl L. Johnson has maintained order in the House, and not just during this week’s opening of the 118th Congress. During her four years as clerk, Johnson has been present for both of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment hearings and the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, The New York Times reported.

Johnson, who is the fourth woman and second Black person to hold the role, has been praised by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

On Thursday, Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., acknowledged Johnson’s work as he nominated Kevin McCarthy for speaker before the House’s 11th roll call.

“Let me express my deep appreciation and the appreciation of everyone in this room for the work you are doing, Madame Clerk,” French said, which was followed by a standing ovation by House members. “Our clerk has stepped up and reflects our House’s best traditions of preparation and dedication to this institution and we’re grateful.”

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., who pulled down the most votes for speaker in all 11 rounds, praised Johnson during a news conference on Thursday, according to The Hill.

“I think Cheryl Johnson, who is a historic figure in her own right, is doing a very good job under difficult circumstances,” Jeffries told reporters.

Johnson was first sworn in as the 36th House Clerk by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Feb. 25, 2019. according to CNN. Pelosi administered the oath to Johnson again on Jan. 3, 2021.

Typically, Johnson’s duties include preparing and delivering messages from the House to the Senate, and receiving messages from the president and Senate when the House is not in session, CNN reported. She is also in charge of certifying the passage of all bills and resolutions passed by the House, according to The Hill.

Johnson is a native of New Orleans. She graduated from John Ehret High School in Jefferson Parish in 1977, according to

On the advice of one of her teachers, Johnson attended the University of Iowa to study journalism.

“I loved every minute of it,” Johnson told

Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa and a law degree from Howard University in Washington, according to the Times.

She worked for the Smithsonian Institution for a decade as its director of government relations before becoming House clerk, The Hill reported.

During the opening of Thursday’s session, Johnson urged House members to be polite and to stop the grandstanding that halted previous roll call votes, the Times reported.

“Before proceeding further, the chair would like to clarify that as part of the clerk’s role during the organization of the house, the clerk has the responsibility to preserve order and decorum in the chamber,” Johnson said. “Members-elect should refrain from engaging in personalities toward other members-elect.

“The chair appreciates the cooperation of members-elect in respecting and upholding order and decorum in the House — thank you.”

Whether Johnson retains her role as clerk remains to be seen. At the beginning of every Congress, each party nominates a clerk after a speaker is elected, The Hill reported.

So until someone sits in the speaker’s chair, Johnson will continue to wield the gavel.

The office is nonpartisan, but Johnson told in 2019 that while she may be appointed by the speaker, “I support the House.”