Johnson: Being a U.S senator has advantages

Johnson: Being a U.S senator has advantages
U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), on a return trip to his hometown and his alma mater, told a University of South Dakota School of Law class that he believes members of the U.S. House of Representatives are growing more and more "polarized."

"Too many Democrats only have to play to their left; too many Republicans only have to play to their right," he said, "and that leaves relatively few in the political middle, which I believe, ironically, is where most Americans are."

While the pressures of the House pull most members away from the middle, that doesn't happen as frequently in the U.S. Senate.

"Senators have to represent whole states, and we can't fool with boundaries (of voting districts)," Johnson said. "I think that my responsibility as senior senator from South Dakota is to try to find ways to build bridges, recognizing that neither party has all the answers � both have some good ideas and both have some bad ideas."

One advantage that Johnson said he and his colleagues have over their counterparts in the U.S. House is the ability to accomplish more.

"One of the nice things about the Senate, and why House members run for the Senate and senators rarely run for the House is you can get more done in the Senate," Johnson said. "You not only have more committee assignments, but the body is so much smaller. You have an opportunity to impact public policy even outside of your committee assignments."

It's more difficult to accomplish anything in the House, where you are one of 435 people, and the committees are huge.

"Often times, the ability to speak is based on seniority," he said. "It can be a little frustrating getting your voice heard on the House side, where on the Senate side, anyone can speak."

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