Critics warn new House Speaker Mike Johnson is a danger to vulnerable communities
After weeks of instability in the United States House of Representatives, Republicans elected Mike Johnson, R-La., as House speaker.
However, Democrats who are not on board say the House’s new leader poses a threat to democracy, and that his legislative record casts doubt on his ability to work with the opposing party to get things done in Washington.
In particular, critics are calling out the new conservative speaker wanting to criminalize abortion, cut funding to social programs such as Social Security and Medicare, and roll back rights for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s great that House Republicans finally got their act together,” said Rep.Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y. She told theGrio, “The only question is whether the newly elected speaker can work in a bipartisan manner.”
Congresswoman Clarke added, “We need to get back to work for the American people, and there’s no more time for the extreme partisan nonsense that got us into this situation in the first place.”
Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chairman Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., and other CBC members issued a statement that condemned House Republicans’ selection of Johnson as speaker.
“It is unfortunate and unsurprising that the candidate House Republicans chose…is a MAGA extremist who plotted with former President Trump to overturn the 2020 election,” said Horsford.
“This alone should disqualify anyone from becoming House speaker and sitting second in line to the presidency, and yet for the Republicans, it was not.”
In a statement obtained by theGrio, Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., said, “The dysfunctional Republican Caucus has unanimously settled with an anti-democracy, anti-LGBTQ+, and anti-abortion extremist as their leader.”
Bush continued, “Today is the first time that many people have even heard of Congressman Mike Johnson, but as people across our country will soon come to find out, he is dangerous.”
She added, “He has dedicated his political career by pushing an extreme MAGA insurrectionist agenda.”
Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove, D-Calif., said in a statement provided to theGrio that Johnson’s promotion to speaker “was a defeat for democracy and the American people.”
“We needed a speaker who could have stood up for all people, not a speaker who voted to shut down the government last month, makes it a priority to criminalize abortion, and tries to turn the clock back on LGBTQ+ rights,” said Kamlager-Dove.
“Mike Johnson is bad news and will enable a far-right economic agenda that includes devastating cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and nutrition assistance programs.”
Johnson’s election comes more than three weeks after Republicans ousted Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as speaker, leaving the House paralyzed and the country on the brink of a possible government shutdown.
House Democrats criticized the new conservative speaker for his controversial track record of wanting to criminalize abortion, cut funding to social programs such as Social Security and Medicare and roll back rights for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, told theGrio, “Congress needs to fix the disastrous consequences of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, but instead the House Majority doubled down and elected as Speaker a fierce opponent of abortion rights.”
“Before becoming a member of Congress, Speaker Mike Johnson, as an attorney, fought against the Center for Reproductive Rights in court to shut down abortion clinics in Louisiana,” she said. “In Congress, he has cosponsored legislation that would prohibit all abortion care ‘from the moment of fertilization.’”
Preston Mitchum, LGBTQ+ rights activist and CEO of PDM Consulting LLC., a Black queer-owned consulting firm that aims to empower the LGBTQ+ community, told theGrio he is “deeply concerned” about Speaker Johnson leading the House of Representatives.
“If the American public thought we couldn’t get worse than Kevin McCarthy, think again…this choice has the potential to erode justice and democracy,” Mitchum told theGrio.
He continued, “Congressman Johnson’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights, racial justice, and gender equity is deeply troubling. His history of opposing LGBTQ+ rights and advocating for discriminatory policies goes against the principles of equal protection and inclusion that our democracy should uphold.”
Rep. Johnson has been deemed an election denier for leading efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
The Louisiana lawmaker, who is a supporter of former President Donald Trump, tweeted, “We MUST fight for election integrity, the Constitution, and the preservation of our republic!” just before insurrectionists stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Mitchum told theGrio Johnson’s “staunch support for former President Trump’s policies and rhetoric raises concerns about his commitment to the principles of accountability and democratic norms.”
“It is vital that our elected leaders prioritize the integrity of our democratic institutions and the rule of law, regardless of their political affiliations,” he said.
Although doubtful, Mitchum told theGrio, he hopes that Johnson “will consider the diverse voices and perspectives of the American people and work towards a more inclusive and just society during his tenure as Speaker.”
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