House Republicans on Friday chose Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan as their new presidential candidate, but more than 50 Republicans voted against endorsing him on the House floor, leaving the party still in disarray as has failed to elect a president in the 10 days since then. the historic overthrow of Kevin McCarthy.
Jordan sent the conference home for the weekend following Friday’s party-line votes, and lawmakers said he planned to use the time to talk to his opponents and try to win them over.
Jordan faces stiff resistance to being elected floor speaker thanks to the same math problem that doomed the candidacy of Majority Leader Steve Scalise, who initially won the GOP nomination for speaker but abruptly dropped out of the race Thursday afternoon. after facing a hardened bloc of opposition.
By failing to unite behind one candidate, the GOP conference has plunged the House into uncharted territory and effectively frozen the chamber at a time of looming major international and domestic crises, from Israel’s war against Hamas to a possible government shutdown in mid-November.
Jordan or any other Republican candidate for president can only afford to lose four Republican votes when the House votes for president, if all members vote, because winning a vote for president requires a majority of the full House.
Jordan’s supporters expressed confidence that he could still pull it off, but the Ohio Republican faces an uphill road.
The House Republican conference selected Jordan on Friday as its final designated speaker in a 124-81 vote over Republican Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia, who made a surprise last-minute bid. Jordan gained just 25 supporters compared to Wednesday’s vote, when Scalise defeated Jordan, 113-99.
Jordan then called a second vote asking members if they would support him on the floor, in an effort to see if that could reduce their opposition. That vote, which was conducted by secret ballot, was 152 to 55, revealing the long road ahead for Jordan’s bid for the presidency to be successful.
Jordan has made a name for himself as a staunch ally of Donald Trump and received the former president’s endorsement in his bid for the presidency. The Ohio Republican serves as chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee.
En route to an earlier meeting of the House GOP conference on Friday morning, Jordan told CNN’s Manu Raju that he believes he will be able to get the 217 votes needed to win the gavel, but declined to say. If you would retire if you can’t. get there at the end of the day.
“I think we’ll get 217 votes,” Jordan said. “I think we’ll get 217 votes; that’s the quickest way to come together and get to the floor.”
After Jordan clinched his party’s nomination for president on Friday, McCarthy urged the conference to support the Ohio Republican, according to several lawmakers in the room, a far different tone than when Scalise won the nomination earlier this year. week.
“He came up and gave a speech and said, ‘Hey, Jim is going to be our next speaker.’ So let’s all calm down, let the emotions go, come back on Monday and take care of business,’” said a member of the Republican Party, which supports Jordan. “And he stepped into some of the crises facing our country.”
After the meeting, McCarthy told CNN that Jordan “will get there,” even though he fell short of the votes needed to win the gavel. The former speaker also told CNN previously that he believes Jordan should take the speakers’ fight to the floor even if he doesn’t have the votes secured yet. Jordan has been meeting and having calls with holdouts as he tries to secure the 217 votes. he will need to secure the gavel, according to a GOP aide.
The problem for the House GOP is that it’s not clear anyone can secure the 217 votes needed to win the gavel, raising questions about how and when the showdown over the presidency will last and at what cost. Republicans have been mired in infighting that has left the House paralyzed with no clear path to elect a new speaker after the historic ouster of Kevin McCarthy.
Tensions are rising among House Republicans, frustrated by the impasse and worried about the path forward.
Republican Rep. Mark Alford of Missouri told reporters after Scalise’s exit from the race Thursday night that one lawmaker had commented: “‘You know, you could run Jesus Christ as speaker of the House and he still wouldn’t get 217. ‘”.
Rep. Don Bacon, when asked if it’s a “no” to Jordan, told CNN’s Manu Raju that he’s “thinking about it right now” and said many Republicans are reluctant to reward what they see as “bad behavior” by giving in to what they see as “bad behavior.” that a small group of holdouts has been pushing, although he said that’s not Jordan’s fault.
“Today we had five people who said they would only vote for Jim and not Steve. Many of us feel like rewarding bad behavior if we do it. The problem for me, though, is that it’s not Jim’s fault, so I’m dealing with it,” he said. “There’s a great quote…if you give more ice cream to a 5-year-old who is behaving terribly, he’ll act worse, right? That’s what will happen here if we reward that behavior. So a lot of us resisted that.”
McCarthy’s endorsement of Jordan on Friday marked a markedly different stance than the one he took toward Scalise, his former top deputy who has long been seen as his potential rival. Sources said the former president did not give a speech after Scalise secured his party’s nomination on Wednesday.
In an interview on Fox News on Thursday, McCarthy talked about how difficult it was going to be for the House majority leader to prevail and cast doubt on whether Scalise could make it as many rounds as he did on the floor in January.
“He has an uphill battle ahead of him. His number was much lower after the conference,” McCarthy said of Scalise. “If we take away the three delegates, he didn’t have the majority there. So, it’s going to be difficult for him.”
Scalise’s exit from the race and McCarthy’s historic ouster as speaker have highlighted the power of a small faction of conservatives to sideline the agenda of the conference majority. House Republicans control only a very narrow majority, and a presidential candidate can only afford to lose four defections and still win.
On Thursday, the night before challenging Jordan, Scott told CNN that the Republican Party’s inability to elect a new president driven by a small group of opponents “makes us look like a bunch of idiots.”
“We have a very small group of people who have to do everything their own way. “We had a group that sabotaged President McCarthy and now we have a group that sabotaged Steve Scalise, they are both great people,” he said.
In a reminder of the fundraising prowess McCarthy brought to the table, which Republicans will now miss as they seek to maintain control of the House in 2024, the ousted president’s political team announced Friday that it had raised a record amount of $78 million for Republicans this cycle.
McHenry remains interim spokesperson
Before Scalise retired, Republicans were already considering whether they should try to expand the powers of acting Speaker Patrick McHenry of North Carolina so the House can pass legislation, such as an Israel resolution, several lawmakers told CNN.
“That’s an option we could pursue,” Republican Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas told reporters.
A group of more centrist Republicans is circulating a letter claiming that McHenry should have more temporal power, sources told CNN, a sign of desperation as the GOP struggles to unite around a speaker.
However, attempting to expand the powers of the acting president, a role that is extremely limited, would put House Republicans in untested legal territory and could be difficult to achieve, and some in the party have already rejected the idea. .
“I’m not willing to consider that at all,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.
Jordan has been the face of key House GOP investigations as chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
The Ohio Republican has served in Congress since 2007 and has a long reputation as a conservative firebrand who helped found the hardline House Freedom Caucus.
In addition to chairing the Judiciary Committee, Jordan also chairs the select subcommittee on the “militarization” of the federal government. When McCarthy announced a House GOP impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, he said House Oversight Chairman James Comer would lead the effort in coordination with Jordan as Judiciary Chairman and President of Ways and Means, Jason Smith.
While Republicans say his investigative work is critical to informing the American public and ensuring accountability, Democrats frequently criticize Jordan as a hyperpartisan supporter of Trump and have accused him of using his position to protect the former president in the period leading up to the 2024 presidential elections. .
As Jordan oversees key House GOP investigations, Democrats also point to the fact that he blocked a subpoena for his testimony from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Both Jordan and Scalise supported objections to the Electoral College results when Congress met to certify Biden’s presidential victory on January 6, 2021, the same day a pro-Trump mob attacked the US Capitol seeking to overturn the elections. elections.
This story and headline have been updated with additional news.