Lori Chavez-DeRemer defends her vote for House speaker

Lori Chavez

U.S. Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer defended her vote Wednesday, Oct. 25, for Mike Johnson as the new Republican speaker of the U.S. House.

The first-term Republican from Happy Valley, who represents Oregon’s 5th District, was among a 20-plus group of Republicans who had opposed a previous Republican nominee, Jim Jordan of Ohio, on three recorded votes last week. But Chavez-DeRemer was among the 220 Republicans, three above the required majority of 217, to vote for Johnson of Louisiana.

After eight Republicans joined all Democrats three weeks ago to oust Kevin McCarthy of California as speaker, Republicans had put up two others — Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota. But both failed to gain support from GOP dissenters and withdrew before the full House could vote. Jordan also stepped aside last week after he failed on three recorded votes.

Chavez-DeRemer’s statement:

“To prevent the chaos and dysfunction of the last few weeks from repeating itself, I made it clear that the Republican Conference needed to find a consensus candidate for speaker. The American people, and our allies around the world, are relying on us to come together and demonstrate that we’re able to govern responsibly.

“I’m hopeful that Speaker Johnson will work effectively with all sides of the (Republican) conference to advance common-sense, pragmatic legislation that is good for our state and our nation. Although I haven’t had the chance to get to know him well, I’ve made Oregon’s priorities very clear to him. As for me, I’ll continue seeking consensus and will always put the best interests of the 5th District first. Let’s get back to work.”

Chavez-DeRemer represents one of the congressional districts that Democrat Joe Biden won in his 2020 victory for president. The 5th District was redrawn after the 2020 Census gave Oregon a sixth seat in the U.S. House, and about half its population is new to the district, including Bend. But in its new form, Biden defeated Republican incumbent Donald Trump, 53% to 44%, the smallest for Biden of Oregon’s five districts primarily west of the Cascades.

About 70% of Clackamas County voters are in the current 5th, along with parts of Marion, Linn and Deschutes counties. Three Democrats already have announced bids for the seat in 2024.

Trump won the 2nd, which covers most of Oregon east of the Cascades, plus part of Southern Oregon except the coast. Republican incumbent Cliff Bentz of Ontario voted for Johnson, as well as Jordan’s three failed bids.

Johnson, 51, is a fourth-term member who has led the conservative Republican Study Committee and was vice chair of the House Republican Conference, making him a member of the leadership. As a Judiciary Committee member, he defended Trump against impeachment in 2020, and he led efforts by congressional Republicans to support Trump’s challenge of the 2020 election with written arguments at the Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case.

Lincoln Project

The Lincoln Project, a group of Republicans opposed to Trump’s 2024 comeback bid, criticized Chavez-DeRemer and others similarly situated.

Its statement in part:

“The 18 Republicans in Biden-won districts destroyed any ‘moderate’ credentials they had and are now supporters of Donald Trump and his attempts to overthrow democracy. The Republicans in the so-called ‘Problem Solvers’ cannot be trusted to find moderating positions within the House. Both groups have submitted to Trump’s authoritarian playbook. They are fellow travelers.

“No member of the Congressional GOP holds democratic values. They have handed control to Trump and are empowering his desire to rule as a dictator. The people of this country have the opportunity to uphold real American values at the ballot box next year by voting for the only pro-America, pro-democracy candidate in this race, President Joe Biden.”

Biden campaign response

Biden’s re-election campaign also was critical of Johnson’s selection on a 220-209 vote of the House.

Ammar Moussa, who spoke for Biden-Harris 2024, said this in a statement:

“MAGA Mike Johnson’s ascension to the speakership cements the extreme MAGA takeover of the House Republican Conference. Now, Donald Trump has his loyal foot soldier to ban abortion nationwide, lead efforts to deny free and fair election results, gut Social Security and Medicare, and advance the extreme MAGA agenda at the expense of middle-class families. 22 days before Congress must act to avoid a government shutdown and while our allies overseas at war depend on our help, extreme MAGA House Republicans elevated a man to second-in-line to the presidency who still won’t admit President Biden won the 2020 election.

“The American people have rejected the extreme MAGA ideology at the ballot box because they understand what’s at stake. And so to every MAGA Republican who supported this choice: We’ll see you in November.”

Biden’s own reaction

Biden offered a more conciliatory statement from the White House:

“As I said when this process began, whoever the Speaker is, I will seek to work with them in good faith on behalf of the American people.

“That’s a principle I have always held to, and that I’ve acted on — delivering major bipartisan legislation on infrastructure, outcompeting China, gun reform and veterans care.

“I restated my willingness to continue working across the aisle after Republicans won the majority in the House last year. By the same token, the American people have made clear that they expect House Republicans to work with me and with Senate Democrats to govern across the aisle — to protect our urgent national security interests and grow our economy for the middle class.

“While House Republicans spent the last 22 days determining who would lead their conference, I have worked on those pressing issues, proposing a historic supplemental funding package that advances our bipartisan national security interests in Israel and Ukraine, secures our border, and invests in the American people. These priorities have been endorsed by leaders in both parties.

“We need to move swiftly to address our national security needs and to avoid a shutdown in 22 days.

“Even though we have real disagreements about important issues, there should be mutual effort to find common ground wherever we can.

“This is a time for all of us to act responsibly, and to put the good of the American people and the everyday priorities of American families above any partisanship.”

pwong@pamplinmedia.com

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