Mar 8, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Mike Johnson urged to get GOP "under control" after SOTU outbursts

House Speaker Mike Johnson, wearing a blue suit jacket, white shirt and red tie, places his hand on Rep. Thomas Massie's arm.

House Speaker Mike Johnson. Photo: Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A top House Democrat is calling for House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) to "educate his members on proper decorum" following repeated bouts of heckling by House Republicans at the State of the Union.

Why it matters: Johnson had urged his colleagues to show respect for President Biden ahead of the speech, but Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and others ultimately chose to defy him.

What he's saying: Rep. Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.) said in a statement that Biden's address was "met with a complete lack of decorum, and frankly, disrespect, by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle."

  • The ranking member of the House Administration Committee implored Johnson to "get his conference under control and educate his members on proper decorum."

Zoom out: Several Republicans told Axios they felt it looked disrespectful and that they opted to contain their feelings and refrain from heckling.

  • Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) praised Johnson for "asking them in advance to be respectful because we didn't get as many interruptions as we have in past years," adding that the hecklers were the "exact people you would expect."
  • Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) called out Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wis.) for yelling "lies," saying in a statement his "constant pattern of unnecessary outbursts ... has many of us worried about his temperament and perhaps his soberness."

The other side: Some Republicans defended the disruptions, saying the tone of Biden's speech warranted a response.

  • "I think this was the most unhinged, angry speech I've ever seen in my lifetime. ... I didn't come here to be yelled at," said Rep. Mark Alford (R-Mo.).
  • Van Orden told reporters, "If the president ... is spending an hour and 15 minutes of the collective government's time lying to everybody and doing a campaign rally, we don't need to sit there and listen."

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