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.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Cleveland.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Cleveland stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Cleveland.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more