Current House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) won the GOP nomination for House speaker on October 13 after Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the party’s previous speaker-designate, stepped aside a day earlier. Republicans voted behind closed doors to select Jordan by a margin of 124 – 81. Jordan’s only opponent, Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), threw his hat in the ring at virtually the last minute. Scalise dropped out because there appeared to be no path to the 217 votes he needed on the House floor to secure the speakership. Jordan’s prospects do not seem much better.
Following the nomination, Republicans set out to gauge how much support Jim Jordan would receive from the GOP conference. In a floor vote, the Ohio Republican will only prevail if he doesn’t lose more than four from his own party. As of this writing, 55 House Republicans have indicated that they would not vote for him – presumably, most of them still plan to back Steve Scalise for the speakership. There might also be a few votes for Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who was ousted as House speaker the previous week.
The party is wary of bringing a vote to the floor before the new speaker-designate has enough support to win. The entire Democratic caucus will vote for House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). So far, just 152 Republicans have pledged to support Jordan.
The Jim Jordan Appeal
Jim Jordan was first elected to Congress in 2007 and is one of the founding members of the House Freedom Caucus, which represents the most conservative faction of the party. The more centrist and GOP establishment types will not be easily won over, having seen both of their preferences, McCarthy and Scalise, rejected.
Just as it was when Scalise tried unsuccessfully to attract a sufficient number of votes, House Republicans must decide whether getting the lower chamber back to business is more important than selecting a speaker whose legislative vision more closely aligns with their own. The House remains largely paralyzed without a speaker because, as Liberty Nation previously pointed out, no one seems to have a clear idea of how much authority the Speaker Pro Tempore wields. North Carolina Republican Patrick McHenry will continue to hold that position until the House elects a new speaker.
After the GOP speaker vote, the House adjourned for the weekend. A full vote is unlikely to happen before October 17. Jim Jordan and the senior party figures backing him are now racing against the clock to bring another 65 Republicans onboard. Israel’s war against the terrorist group Hamas – and now perhaps also against the Lebanese Hezbollah – has injected fresh urgency into the effort to get a new speaker seated. On top of that, the House will soon need to work on appropriations bills. Republicans simply cannot afford to allow the current infighting to continue indefinitely – or even for another couple of weeks.
Sooner or later – and it must be sooner – one group of GOP representatives will have to collectively grit its teeth and back Jim Jordan or someone else for the gavel even if the candidate is not their first choice. Not everyone on the Republican side of the House is going to come out a winner. The longer this fight over the speakership continues, though, the more Democrats will use it to their advantage. On the other side of the coin, Republicans may be confronting a unity issue it has tried so hard to ignore for too many years – and that might be a good thing for them in the long run.