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Fitzpatrick on Johnson vote: “We can’t have the lights off”


U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1, spoke with the Herald Wednesday about his decision to help elevate vocal Trump supporter Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana, to the role of speaker of the House.

“He’s a spiritual man, a humble man and he happens to be, unlike myself, very conservative,” Fitzpatrick told the Herald shortly before casting his vote. “I don’t agree with him on policy issues. We disagree on the election. I believe Joe Biden is our legitimately elected president. I don’t believe in extreme abortion laws. I think it should be legal, particularly in the early stages.”

Fitzpatrick said he put those policy differences aside and joined every other Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday to support Johnson because, he said, the House can not go on without a speaker. Not with two wars happening overseas, a deadline looming to fund the government, and a pivotal vote on funding aid to Ukraine on the horizon.

“You can’t have the lights off in the House of Representatives,” Fitzpatrick said.

Johnson encouraged then-President Donald Trump’s failed attempts to overturn the 2020 election, famously saying in November 2020 on “X” (then-Twitter) “I have just called President Trump to say this: ‘Stay strong and keep fighting, sir! The nation is depending upon your resolve. We must exhaust every available legal remedy to restore Americans’ trust in the fairness of our election system.’”

Fitzpatrick said he will continue to be a voice for moderate positions in the House, saying “the role of speaker is administrative. All of us still have one vote. I’ll use mine to block crazy bills from both the left and the right.”

What he hopes the voting public will take away from Republicans’ nearly month-long period without a speaker is that “October 3, 2023 was a very sad day for our country because 4% of one party and 100% of the other voted to punish bipartisanship.”

He was referring to the vote to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the wake of the move to work with Democrats to avert a government shutdown.

“That’s the opposite message that we should be sending to America and to its future leaders,” he said. “People should be critical of those eight Republicans and 208 Democrats who’ll have to own responsibility for the consequences of this...Our Founding Fathers could not have envisioned that we’d have such a tight margin and people on both sides that don’t compromise and are willing to burn the whole place down.”

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