The House is set to hold a vote this week to elect a new speaker with the chamber at a standstill since Kevin McCarthy’s removal two weeks ago. But the path forward remains tenuous as deep divisions within the GOP have come to a head. Rep. Jim Jordan received his party’s nomination for speaker on Friday, becoming the second nominee after Majority Leader Steve Scalise abruptly abandoned his bid for the role a day earlier. But Jordan’s grasp of the gavel is not guaranteed.
The Ohio Republican fell more than 60 votes short of the threshold needed to become speaker in a test vote on Friday. But after work to secure support over the weekend, he inched closer on Monday to reaching the backing needed for a floor vote planned for Tuesday.
Jordan, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, was known for years as an outspoken critic of leadership positioned squarely among the party’s right flank. But the conservative firebrand has bowed to leadership more recently, earning himself the coveted seat atop the Judiciary Committee and wielding unfettered influence in the process.
“His reputation precedes him, but his reputation has changed over time,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas told CNN on Sunday. “He has become part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
Still, for some moderates within his conference, a Jordan speakership has been unthinkable, spurring an all-out effort by Jordan and his allies to win their support. Crenshaw noted that, although he supports Jordan, his allies’ “high-pressure campaign” over the weekend is “the dumbest way” to win over support within the conference.
Even so, a number of Republican holdouts who had opposed a Jordan speakership just days earlier or expressed skepticism about his speakership began to announce their support on Monday, including Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri, Rep. Ken Calvert of California, Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama and Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida.
Should the sudden surge in support be too little to propel Jordan to victory, a couple names have been floated as fallback options, including Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma and Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana. But McCarthy told Fox News on Sunday that both candidates would come up short, while he made clear that Jordan can get the votes.
Still, a handful of moderates, along with Democrats, staunchly oppose a Jordan speakership, making a bipartisan path forward possible. Some have floated a bipartisan effort to empower Rep. Patrick McHenry, who has been serving as speaker pro tempore since McCarthy’s ouster, or even elect the North Carolina Republican as speaker.
“We are ready to be reasonable in trying to find the common ground necessary,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries told NBC News on Sunday, noting that talks of a bipartisan solution, which have been informal in recent days, could be formalized when lawmakers return.
Jordan called for House GOP unity on Sunday, writing in a post on social media that “the differences between Republicans and Democrats in the House far outweigh our differences in the Republican Conference.”
“This country and the GOP Conference cannot afford us attacking each other,” Jordan said. “It’s time to get to work.”
Still, Rep. Mike Turner, Ohio Republican, told CBS on Sunday that, although he would prefer a Republican solution, “if there is a need” because a small group of Republicans refuse to coalesce behind a leader, then a bipartisan deal “will have to be done.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Capitol, the Senate returns this week with a schedule likely dominated by addressing the recent attack on Israel, as senators balk at the drama that’s taken over the lower chamber.
Senators are expected to receive a briefing on the situation in Israel and Gaza on Wednesday. They’re also expected to vote on a resolution supporting Israel in the coming days. And they’re aiming to make progress toward confirming Jack Lew as the ambassador to Israel.
Source: US News