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Johnson 'frustrated' with House situation

U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson before the SDPB 2022 House of Representatives Debate.
Slater Dixon
U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson before the SDPB 2022 House of Representatives Debate.

This interview originally aired on In the Moment on SDPB Radio.

South Dakota’s lone representative in Congress said the situation in the House is “not good.”

Those comments come as former-Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted earlier this week. Eight Republicans joined all Democrats to remove McCarthy as leader of the House on Tuesday.

The GOP’s narrow majority gives outsized influence to a small number of Republicans who made McCarthy agree to several concessions to initially gain the spot.

In an interview on SDPB's In the Moment, Johnson said the hardliners who moved to oust McCarthy from the speakership will continue their antics.

“It’s just never enough with these guys. Some of them are principled. Others of them, though, are interested in themselves in attention and in chaos," Johnson said. "When you’ve got pyromaniacs—the fact that they have burned down one house does not satisfy them. It makes them hungry to go burn down more. This is not a good situation.”

Johnson said he’s also frustrated with House Democrats, who he said empowered hardliners to oust McCarthy.

House Democrats are upset McCarthy reneged on a budget deal with the White House, opened an impeachment inquiry into President Biden and blamed Democrats for wanting to shut the government down.

Part of McCarthy’s sins with the hardliners was his working with Democrats to keep the government temporarily funded. Now, Johnson said bipartisan solutions will become even harder.

“If working with Democrats is a political death sentence, then we’re going to get a lot less of it in the future," Johnson said. "I’m not just frustrated with the hardliners. I’m frustrated with the Democrats who are going to make it even that much more difficult to find common ground in our country.”

The House is unable to conduct legislative work without an elected speaker. House Republicans will convene on Tuesday for a forum to hear from candidates for the speakership.

Several Republicans are announcing their intention to run for speaker, including majority leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana, and Jim Jordan of Ohio.

Johnson balks at the idea of becoming speaker in the current tenor of the house and said he does not have a preferred candidate, yet.

Read the full transcript of Johnson's interview here.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.
Lori Walsh is the host and senior producer of In the Moment.