Newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican known for his candid and direct rhetoric, has continued to engage in vocal confrontations with Democrats on various issues, emphasizing his party’s stance on core conservative values.
In a February 2023 incident, Johnson clashed with Democrats over the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance during House meetings. Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz proposed an amendment allowing inspirational constituents to lead the Pledge, sparking a debate. Johnson responded by highlighting that not all members were present during the Pledge’s recitation and stressed the importance of this symbol of American freedom. When Rep. David Cicilline sought to restrict those who could lead the Pledge, Johnson called the move “superfluous” and accused it of being politically motivated.
Johnson also criticized the Democrats’ attempts to remove “under God” from the congressional witness oath, a tradition deeply rooted in American history. Ultimately, Gaetz’s amendment was passed unanimously.
In a separate encounter in July, Johnson confronted Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, accusing the agency of overreaching by determining what is true or false in public discourse. Johnson expressed his skepticism about the DHS’s actions, questioning the impact it had on freedom of speech.
Secretary Mayorkas’s policies have created agencies that colluded and coerced social media companies to censor American speech online.
— House Judiciary GOP 🇺🇸 (@JudiciaryGOP) July 26, 2023
During this exchange, Johnson accused Mayorkas of being the “most dishonest witness” he had seen during his seven years in Congress. This encounter shed light on the ongoing tension between Republicans and the DHS regarding free speech and national security.
Secretary Mayorkas is the MOST DISHONEST witness to sit before the Judiciary Committee in my 7 years in Congress.
He is personally responsible for the open border catastrophe, skyrocketing fentanyl deaths, and the human trafficking crisis — & the American people DESERVE answers. pic.twitter.com/6fTnlHNnFG
— Rep. Mike Johnson (@RepMikeJohnson) July 26, 2023
Another contentious moment occurred in October 2021 when Johnson interrogated Attorney General Merrick Garland. Johnson raised concerns about a possible conflict of interest related to a memo Garland had written after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent a letter to President Biden, characterizing certain actions against public school officials as potential domestic terrorism and hate crimes.
Mike Johnson was officially voted in as the 56th Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Probably a good time to remind everyone about the time he made a Democrat so angry that she marched over and threw some documents in his face.
— Western Lensman (@WesternLensman) October 25, 2023
Johnson repeatedly pressed Garland on whether he had sought ethical guidance on the propriety of the memo. Garland defended the memo’s focus on “violence and threats of violence” but declined to commit to an ethics inquiry. Johnson emphasized the need for impartial third-party assessments of government activities, asserting that self-determination on such matters was not acceptable.