Rep. Mike Johnson won the House speakership on Oct. 25 following a vote after weeks of chaos after far-right Republicans led the ouster of the former Speaker.
Johnson, R-Louisiana, has served in the House since 2016, is an ally of former President Donald Trump and was a notable elected official in the failed attempt to overturn the 2020 election in favor of the Republican former president.
The all-Democrat New Mexico House delegation held a press call after the vote on Wednesday and highlighted what they called extremist views held by the new Speaker.
“We are deeply troubled by the election of Mr. Johnson and we are fearful about what kinds of policies he will bring to the floor over the coming months,” Rep. Melanie Stansbury said. “But what is also important is to understand that New Mexico’s delegation has been united in our efforts to reopen the House to try to chart a bipartisan path forward, and to ensure that we continue to serve the people of New Mexico.”
Rep. Gabe Vasquez referred to the House of Representatives as the “MAGA Republican House” referring to the acronym for Trump’s campaign slogan Make America Great Again.
“We’ve been through it for the last three weeks with so much chaos and dysfunction here, and the best they could do was their fifth choice for speaker and so instead of accepting the Democrats’ olive branch and choosing to work side-by-side with us on a bipartisan basis to reopen the House, Republicans chose extremism and chaos,” Vasquez said.
With the House Speakership question resolved, at least for now, the next hurdle is preventing a government shutdown.
Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández said a continuing resolution would be needed to keep the government open pending approval of appropriations bills since the process to replace then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-California, took almost a month to complete.
The House passed a bipartisan continuing resolution on Sept. 30 which led to McCarthy’s Oct. 3 removal.
The October stopgap legislation expires on Nov. 17 which leaves less than a month to avoid another government shutdown.
The delegation said they are worried about Johnson since he was one of the members of Congress who tried to overturn the 2020 election, which Biden won with 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232 electoral votes.
“We understand that their intention- the GOP’s intention- is to take us into the new year with the continuing resolution,” Stansbury said. “I want to highlight that this has potentially devastating impacts for communities because there was in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which was negotiated with President Biden in May, required permits for what’s called sequestration, or across-the-board cuts in agency budgets if they did not pass a budget in time.”
Aside from the current budget issues, there is also the question of election integrity.
Johnson was one of the members of Congress who wanted to overturn the 2020 election based on election denialist conspiracy theories.
“I can certainly say, speaking from my own experience, one of the reasons I ran for the (2nd Congressional District) seat was how troubled I was by what had happened with the erosion of democracy when it comes to our voting rights and so many extreme MAGA Republicans voting to decertify the elections in states that they didn’t even represent,” Vasquez said. “I can tell you that there is some palpable fear because Mike Johnson was one of the architects of the philosophy… which inspired, of course, the riots that we saw here on Jan. 6 and so there is a worry that he will continue this ideology in his leadership that could further erode the voting rights that we’re seeing attacked in states all across the country.”
The House Speaker serves as second in line to the presidency behind the vice president. The position’s responsibilities include administering the oath of office to House members as well as giving House members permission to speak on the House floor, designating a speaker pro tempore, counting and declaring votes, appointing members to committees, sending bills to committees, signing legislation and opening and adjourning meetings.