WASHINGTON ― Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the House Republicans’ new speaker-designate, has until Monday to try to round up more votes from his GOP colleagues to win the speaker’s gavel or likely face the same fate as the previous speaker-designate, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.).
In a simple up-or-down vote Friday on whether they would support him on the House floor for speaker, Jordan garnered only 152 votes from his fellow House Republicans, compared to 55 against him.
Having been trying to come up with a replacement for deposed former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) since the start of the week, tired House Republicans streamed out of the large conference room in a House office building and headed home, not to return until Monday.
“This was a decision of the speaker-designee,” said Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.). “He wanted to take the time to personally work towards getting those people who were ‘no’ votes to really understand his position and his plans for the next 75 days and earn their support.”
“It’s been a long two weeks,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), who has been the acting speaker pro tem since McCarthy’s ouster on Oct. 3.
The vote puts Jordan in the same position that Scalise was in on Wednesday: having won the most votes in the House Republican conference, but well short of the 217 Republican votes needed to be the next speaker. Scalise withdrew Thursday night when it was apparent that he would be unable to sway enough holdouts to come over to him.
Jordan defeated Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) in his second try to win his party’s nomination for speaker this week. In the day’s first vote, Jordan won 124 votes from his colleagues, just over 60% of the Republican conference, making him the party’s speaker-designate.
Scott had announced his candidacy at the last minute Friday, telling reporters he’d woken up that morning with no intention of running, meaning the vote was essentially a referendum on Jordan.
The House has been at a standstill since Republicans ousted McCarthy from the speaker’s office last week, and the scene on Friday was emblematic of the GOP’s general disarray.
At one point during Friday’s voting, Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) stormed through the hallways, which were packed with reporters, yelling that police should arrest a member of the public who had offended him with allegedly anti-Israel statements.
Jordan supporters said they believed his fate would not be the same as Scalise’s.
“The American people, they are for Jim Jordan overwhelmingly,” Rep. Russell Fry (R-S.C.) told HuffPost on Friday, citing pro-Jordan callers to his office.
Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.), meanwhile, rated Jordan’s speaker bid as “plausible, but it’s an uphill climb.”
Other GOP lawmakers indicated that they have serious reservations about Jordan.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said it would be “a very big hurdle” for Jordan to win his vote.
As of Friday afternoon, it’s hard to see how any Republican could win the near-unanimous support of their colleagues that would be necessary to get the gavel. Like Scalise’s short-lived bid, Jordan can likely only lose four Republicans in a floor vote.
Complicating Jordan’s path is the fact that some members are still pushing for McCarthy to be reinstated as speaker after his ouster last week. A small faction forced a vote to eject McCarthy because he had averted a government shutdown using Democratic help — a no-no for GOP hard-liners, even though there’s no way to fund the government without support from Democrats, who control the Senate and White House.
Jordan is closely aligned with the conservative wing of the conference and received an endorsement from former president Donald Trump. During his time in Congress, he has endorsed shutting down the government, played a key role in Trump’s plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and pushed the impeachment of President Joe Biden.
Scott announced his candidacy Friday morning just minutes before the vote, saying he wants to lead “a House that functions in the best interest of the American people.”
Scott has a low profile, but the Georgia Republican has been outspoken about his frustration with his colleagues for ousting McCarthy from the speakership last week, calling the anti-McCarthy faction “nothing more than grifters who have handed control of the House to the Democratic Party in the name of their own glory and fundraising.”
Moderate Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) said Republicans should face the fact that they can’t coalesce ― and that they might as well set up some sort of power-sharing agreement with Democrats, who have offered to lend support to a speaker willing to cooperate.
“A lot of folks are in denial, but you’re never gonna get eight or 10 folks on board,” Bacon told reporters. “And so I think the bipartisan path is going to be the only way out.”
Democrats, for their part, reached out to Republicans on Friday, with one group of four lawmakers offering a plan to share control of the House. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) told HuffPost she’d separately had informal conversations with Republicans, who told her their speaker drama needs to play itself out before they’ll work with Democrats.
“The problem is, it’s been almost two weeks,” Kaptur said. “If they are unable to govern, we have to do something for the country.”
McHenry did not respond to a question about the proposal.