By Joseph Lord and Jackson Richman
It has been almost two weeks without a speaker of the House but that soon could end with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) taking the gavel, whose bid for the speakership is gaining momentum as early holdouts flip in his favor.
After Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) ouster as speaker on Oct. 3, the deeply divided Republican caucus has scrambled to find consensus for a replacement.
Some frustrated Republicans have despaired of the prospect that the party could ever agree on a candidate, leading to suggestions that Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the nearly powerless speaker pro tempore of the House, could be given emergency powers in the interim.
Mr. Jordan became the second Republican nominated for the top job in the House on Oct. 14.
Earlier, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) was nominated by Republicans in a 111–99 vote, narrowly defeating Mr. Jordan. But after it became apparent that he couldn’t garner enough support to get over the finish line, Mr. Scalise announced he was withdrawing his candidacy.
However, the two weeks of infighting could be coming to a close as Mr. Jordan, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, seems to be inching toward the finish line in his bid for the gavel.
If his momentum continues, Mr. Jordan could be on track to be named speaker of the House by Tuesday, when the House is scheduled to vote on him.
7 ‘Never Jordans’ Flip
Over the past 24 hours, six key Republican holdouts, including Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.), Rob Wittman (R-Va.), and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) have said that they will support Mr. Jordan.
In a thread posted to X, Mr. Rogers—who earlier said he would never support Mr. Jordan—said he’s changed his mind, and will in fact be backing Mr. Jordan.
“[Jim Jordan] and I have had two cordial, thoughtful, and productive conversations over the past two days,” Mr. Rogers said. “We agreed on the need for Congress to pass a strong NDAA, appropriations to fund our government’s vital functions, and other important legislation like the Farm Bill.
“As a result, I have decided to support Jim Jordan for Speaker of the House on the floor.”
Mr. Calvert echoed the sentiment in another post to X, saying that his concerns about Mr. Jordan were assuaged after speaking with the nominee.
“After having a conversation with Jim Jordan about how we must get the House back on a path to achieve our national security and appropriations goals, I will be supporting him for Speaker on the floor,” Mr. Calvert said.
Earlier, Mr. McClintock, another former holdout, also announced that he would back Mr. Jordan.
“House Republicans have suffered a total breakdown of party discipline. A majority party is only a majority party when it votes as a majority,” Mr. McClintock wrote on X. “McCarthy should never have been ousted, but now Jim Jordan is the majority’s choice and deserves the vote of every Republican.”
Ms. Wagner also came out for Mr. Jordan after initial opposition.
“Jim Jordan and I spoke at length again this morning, and he has allayed my concerns about keeping the government open with conservative funding, the need for strong border security, our need for consistent international support in times of war and unrest, as well as the need for stronger protections against the scourge of human trafficking and child exploitation,” Ms. Wagner said in a statement.
“Jim Jordan is our conference nominee, and I will support his nomination for Speaker on the House floor.”
Most recently, Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Ferguson also announced their support for Mr. Jordan.
In a post on X, Mr. Buchanan admitted that he was “deeply frustrated by the way this process played out,” but said he decided to support Mr. Jordan after “a very productive conversation.”
Mr. Ferguson wrote in a post, “I’ll be voting for Jim Jordan on the House floor tomorrow.”
In a post on X, Mr. Wittman also vowed his support for Mr. Jordan.
“I just had a productive conversation with [Jim Jordan] about our shared priorities for this Congress,” Mr. Wittman said, citing issues the two discussed like the National Defense Authorization Act, funding the government, and securing the border. “Jim has my support for Speaker.”
These flips represent substantial wins for Mr. Jordan, but he still has a way to go and several opponents to convince in his bid for the speakership.
Mr. Jordan is the Republicans’ second nominee for the gavel since Mr. McCarthy’s ouster nearly two weeks ago when eight Republicans joined all House Democrats to boot the Californian lawmaker from the speaker’s chair.
Mr. Jordan’s nomination in a 124–81 vote on Friday revealed how deeply divided House Republicans remain over his bid.
Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), who announced his bid minutes before the conference and who had done no campaigning, nevertheless garnered the support of roughly 40 percent of Republicans present. Since then, Mr. Scott, as well as several of those who voted for him, have endorsed Mr. Jordan, yielding to the will of the conference.
But several opponents to Mr. Jordan’s bid remain.
Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), who serves alongside Mr. Rogers on the Armed Services Committee, said last week that he would need “to chew on it” when asked about whether he’d support Mr. Jordan.
In a post that Mr. Bacon re-shared, Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Calif.) said that he would support Mr. McCarthy, despite the latter’s exhortations that his party back Mr. Jordan, suggesting that Mr. Bacon also plans on supporting Mr. McCarthy.
Rep. John Rutherford (R-Fla.) told The Epoch Times last week that he would absolutely refuse to support Mr. Jordan, citing conference rules dictating that all members of the GOP conference must yield to the candidate nominated by the majority for the speakership. Mr. Rutherford said he would continue to support Mr. Scalise, the previous nominee.
On Oct. 16, Mr. Rutherford reiterated his opposition to Mr. Jordan in comments to reporters, tying it to Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-Fla.) support of the candidate. Mr. Gaetz led the effort to oust Mr. McCarthy.
“I’m a ‘no’ on allowing Matt Gaetz and the other seven to win by putting their individual in as speaker,” Mr. Rutherford said.
Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) also reiterated on Oct. 16 that he remained opposed to Mr. Jordan.
Other opponents to Mr. Jordan who’ve made no indication that their mind has been changed include Reps. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), and Steve Womack (R-Ark.).
What If He Loses?
In the face of this opposition, despite his gain in momentum, there’s still a possibility that Mr. Jordan could ultimately fail to meet the 217 vote threshold to become speaker, as he can only spare five “no” votes.
If Mr. Jordan were to fail to get enough votes, it’s possible that the House GOP could turn to Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), the largest ideological congressional caucus.
Mr. Hern’s name came up during the speaker vote in January which Mr. McCarthy won after 15 rounds and offering concessions to hardline conservatives. After all, the RSC includes both conservative and moderate House Republicans.
Alternatively, Mr. McHenry, who currently holds very limited power as appointed speaker pro tempore, could be made elected speaker pro tempore. This would give him the authority to advance legislation to address pressing foreign and domestic matters, including the Isreal-Hamas war, and with just over a month to go until government funding runs out.
However, Republicans appear reluctant to engage in this option, expressing concerns about the legality of such a move.
President Joe Biden said he would shortly ask Congress to pass supplemental funding legislation to support Israel.
A resolution introduced by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) could be voted on if there is an elected speaker or speaker pro tempore.
The desire for Congress to do more to support Israel could also prompt lawmakers to consider other options, such as altering House rules.
Under the U.S. Constitution, the House is required to choose a speaker, but the scope of his powers is left largely to the rules decided upon by the House. Because a rule change takes only a simple majority, lawmakers could temporarily vote to change the rules to allow legislation to pass in the absence of a speaker.
However, as in the case of electing a speaker pro tempore, this is an avenue that several Republicans seem unwilling to pursue.
Lawmakers are set to gather on Oct. 17, where they are expected to finally bring a vote for speaker to the floor.