Jan 3, 2024 - News

Congressman Bill Johnson to become YSU president

A closeup portrait in profile of Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Oh)

Photo: Nathan Howard/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) is planning an earlier-than-expected departure from Congress this month to become president of Youngstown State University, Axios' Andrew Solender reports.

Why it matters: Johnson's resignation comes on the heels of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's departure and will leave House Republicans down yet another vote as they try to pass key spending bills with a razor-thin majority.

  • Republicans will be down to just 219 seats to Democrats' 213 once Johnson leaves.

Driving the news: Johnson formally submitted his letter of resignation on Tuesday, according to a letter sent out by YSU board of trustees chair Michael Peterson.

  • Peterson said Johnson's resignation will take effect Jan. 21 and that he will begin work at the university the next day.

Zoom in: Johnson's appointment at YSU, being decided mostly in closed-door executive sessions, has been met with opposition by the university's student body, faculty and alumni network.

What they're saying: "Fred Flintstone would have been a more enlightened choice," former Plain Dealer editorial director Brent Larkin wrote in a scathing column this week.

  • Larkin criticized Johnson's lack of experience — he has never worked in education — and his far-right politics, including his anti-LGBTQ stances and his vote against certifying the 2020 presidential election.

The latest: "Modern Family" star Ed O'Neill, a YSU alumnus, said he will return his honorary doctorate.

  • "I'm going to start calling it Trump-U," he told Ideastream. "And I think a lot of people feel that way."

The other side: "Bill brings a commitment to advancing our institution's mission, and we eagerly anticipate the contributions he and his wife LeeAnn will make to our community," Peterson said in his letter.

Zoom out: Johnson's planned exit from Congress comes amid a historic deluge of retirements from House members in both parties.

  • At least two dozen Democrats and more than a dozen Republicans are planning to leave Congress by year-end.
  • Many lawmakers have cited burnout from the recent chaos and longstanding dysfunction in Congress as key factors.
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