Montana Republican Greg Gianforte, who pleaded guilty last week to assaulting a news reporter a day before he won a May 25 special election, was sworn into the House of Representatives Wednesday afternoon.
In his first remarks on the House floor, Gianforte said he intended to make good on his campaign pledge to “drain the swamp” and announced he would file bills establishing congressional term limits, blocking pay for lawmakers if they cannot pass a federal budget and banning lobbying by former members of Congress.
“I’m a business guy and an electrical engineer. I’m trained to solve hard problems — not to argue about them, just to get things done,” he said, adding that “we need to bring accountability to Washington, D.C.”
At least one of Gianforte’s new colleagues booed the term-limits proposal.
Gianforte pleaded guilty on June 12 to a misdemeanor assault charge, admitting to attacking Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs on election eve after Jacobs asked about his position on the pending Republican health care bill. He was ordered to pay a fine, perform community service and undergo anger management counseling, and he separately publicly apologized to Jacobs and donated $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists in order to stave off a civil lawsuit.
In an interview with the Associated Press last week, Gianforte said he had taken responsibility and wished to move on with his political career. “I think you can never erase history,” he said. “I can’t erase it, but I did do everything in my power once the event was over to take responsibility.”
But he would not explain in that interview why his campaign initially blamed Jacobs for the assault and only took responsibility after he won the election.
Gianforte, who will serve as Montana’s only House representative, was sworn in by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) on the House floor. At a ceremonial event before the official swearing-in, he was joined by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who was Gianforte’s business partner before entering politics; Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who previously held Gianforte’s seat; and former Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), as well as Gianforte’s wife and two of his four children.
“Greg is a doer, and we’re happy to have him here,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in brief floor remarks after Gianforte was sworn in.
Elise Viebeck contributed to this report.