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The clerk presiding during the speaker vote is no stranger to turbulent times in the House

<i>Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call

By Chandelis Duster, CNN

Cheryl Johnson, the House clerk who has presided over the contentious votes taking place this week during the speakership elections, is no stranger to turbulent times in the House of Representatives.

Already, in the nearly four years in which she has held the job, she has been present for two impeachment hearings as well as the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot.

Her typical duties include preparing and delivering messages to the US Senate, receiving messages from the US president and the Senate when the House is not in session, and certifying the passage of all bills and resolutions by the chamber.

This week, she has presided over the chamber and called members to order.

Johnson was first sworn in as the 36th House Clerk by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on February 25, 2019, and again on January 3, 2021. Along with the House Sergeant at Arms, she led House impeachment managers as they walked over articles of impeachment against Donald Trump to the US Senate in 2020 and 2021.

A native of New Orleans, Johnson received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa and a law degree from Howard University. Before becoming a House Clerk, she was director of the Smithsonian’s Office of Government Relations and worked with the Smithsonian for 10 years, according to her bio. Johnson also worked on Capitol Hill for close to 20 years in various roles, including as director and counsel for the committee on House Administration’s subcommittee on libraries and memorials and chief education and investigative counsel for the House committee on Education and the Workforce. She was also a spokesperson and principal policy adviser for the committee.

Since John Beckley was elected as the first House clerk on April 1, 1789, Johnson is one of only four women to hold the title and the second Black person in the role. Robin Carle became the first female House clerk in 1995. Lorraine Miller was the first Black woman to be House clerk in 2007 and presided over the chamber during speakership elections in 2009.

The House clerk is elected every two years under a new Congress and the majority and minority parties nominate candidates after the House speaker is elected.

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