Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., jumped into the race for House speaker on Friday, just a day after the GOP’s first nominee, Majority Leader Steve Scalise, dropped his bid for the top job after failing to lock up enough support.
Jordan, a Donald Trump loyalist who has burnished a reputation on the Hill as a conservative bomb-thrower, is the favorite to win the closed-door, secret-ballot contest over the lesser-known Scott.
But Jordan could still meet the same fate as Scalise. Because of the party’s razor-thin majority, just five GOP detractors can block Jordan in a House floor vote, and a handful of Republicans have already said they won’t vote for Jordan.
They include Reps. Scott, Ann Wagner of Missouri, and Don Bacon of Nebraska. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., a powerful appropriator, called Jordan “straightforward” but expressed concerns about his ability to lead a very narrow majority, pointing to the fact that he could not flip votes in favor of Scalise after Jordan endorsed his one-time opponent.
“If you can’t get your closest friends, your closest supporters on an election issue to follow you … it begs the question of can you do anything and can you get anybody to follow you on really difficult issues,” Diaz-Balart said Friday.
Pessimism pervaded the Republican caucus.
Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y. described the situation: “The French have a word for it, clusterf—.”
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., said Friday he’s not ready to get behind Jordan or any candidate yet. The first step, he said, is to get a majority of the conference behind a speaker nominee and then that person will decide whether and when to hold a full House vote.
“We’ve got to see who our nominee is first,” he said. “Any candidate that wants to run is going to have to like answer questions about a government shutdown, about debt ceiling, about Ukraine — the things we care about — motion to vacate.” He said the motion-to-vacate rule has been “abused” and must be changed.
“Look at what we’re dealing with. The world is on fire and we have an entire branch of government not functioning right now,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s unacceptable.”
House Republicans will meet at 1 p.m. for a candidate forum, to hear from Jordan or any other lawmaker who may run.
Many Republicans are now looking to Jordan, of Ohio, because he was the only challenger to Scalise, of Louisiana, losing just two days ago in a narrow, internal 113-99 vote.
Supporters point to his conservative credentials — he chaired both the Republican Study Committee and far-right House Freedom Caucus — and also that he has aligned himself with the GOP leadership team more in recent years.
“We must unite behind one leader with the integrity, the ability and the vision to lead us. I believe that Jim Jordan is that leader and I ask my colleagues to join me now,” Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., the House GOP’s campaigns chief this cycle, said in a statement Friday.
Following Scalise’s decision to drop out, House Republicans regrouped and huddled behind closed doors Friday, facing deep intraparty divisions and no apparent path to 217 votes, the magic number needed on the House floor to elect a new speaker.
The chain of events began with Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s ouster as speaker last week and led to Scalise’s exit Thursday, all intensifying the bad blood within the party, which could make Republicans’ task even harder. Some GOP lawmakers, including Rep. Carlos Gimenez of Florida, have pledged to vote only for McCarthy on the House floor.
“We had a process and we had a nominee and people stabbed him in the back,” said Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas. “So that’s not something to be proud of.”
Source: NBC News