South Dakota

South Dakota Rep. Johnson touts policy over ‘angry tweets’

SIOUX FALLS, SD (AP) — Republicans will hold a majority in the House of Representatives for the first time since Rep. Dusty Johnson entered Congress in 2018, but it’s unlikely to change the South Dakota Republican’s political style to focus on conservative politics rather than hot cable news or Twitter, he told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Johnson will begin his third term next year after an easy re-election campaign in which he faced no Democratic opponent in the heavily red state. It was in part an acknowledgment by the state’s Democrats that Johnson can attract moderate voters. And now that his party is in a majority for the first time since his trip to Washington, the 46-year-old said he expects to chair either an agriculture or transportation infrastructure subcommittee.

“This will give us a real opportunity to push a policy agenda,” he told the AP in an interview, in which he touted policy wins to make the meatpacking industry more competitive and a strategy to curb inflation.

“Unlike many of my peers, I don’t spend much time yelling on cable news or firing off angry tweets. I’m someone who reads the bills and drafts the bills,” he said.

Though Johnson celebrated the GOP’s hold on the House of Representatives, it will be close. They are well on their way to cobble together what may be the thinnest party majority of the 21st century. But even that influence could give House Republicans an opportunity to scrutinize President Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s foreign dealings.

At the same time, the White House is preparing to defend the Democratic president against all allegations of wrongdoing and arguing that Republicans are driven by opportunism. It’s a showdown that could lead to a new level of hostility between the House of Representatives and Biden.

Johnson expressed his support for investigations into Hunter Biden.

“I’m not saying anyone is guilty because I don’t think you can rush to that verdict until you have the facts,” he said. “But how do you have the facts if you don’t ask the questions?”

Asked if that would torpedo hopes of a collaboration between Biden and House Republicans, the congressman turned to the president and said it would be Biden’s problem if he refused to discuss areas of political agreement during an investigation into his family to find.

Before those clashes with the new Congress develop next year, however, Johnson said he will attend to at least one other business of the Lame Duck Congress — the committee’s Jan. 6 final report. The committee has revealed how former President Donald Trump ramped up his false allegations of voter fraud after losing the 2020 election to the point of leading to a riot in the Capitol that drove Johnson and his colleagues to flee.

Any further action to deal with the attack and shore up the democratic process would require a willingness on the part of Republicans like Johnson to take action. But he made no pledges to take action after the committee released its report on January 6: “I’m a guy who always likes to read the bills, read the reports and examine the evidence before making a decision. So I would like to see the report before I have an opinion.”

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