U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, walks to the House chamber ahead of a planned vote for Speaker of the House in the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 17, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House rejected Ohio’s Jim Jordan as a candidate for speaker on Tuesday, though he vowed to secure the votes needed in the days ahead.
Jordan’s decision to try to rally roughly 20 holdouts to his side leaves the House frozen, unable to take up legislation to fund the government ahead of a mid-November shutdown deadline, or to provide aid to Israel in its war against Hamas. The House has now gone two weeks without a speaker.
The House will hold a second ballot on Wednesday, giving Jordan time to regroup, so he can try to flip those Republican holdouts.
“We’re making progress. I feel good about it. We’re going to keep going. I’ve had great conversations, great discussions with our colleagues,” Jordan told reporters Tuesday night, saying he was willing to keep going until the House elected a speaker.
“Frankly, no one in our conference wants to see any type of coalition government with Democrats, so we’re going to keep working and we’re going to get to the votes,” Jordan said.
House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, of New York, said Tuesday evening on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building that he expected talks about a consensus, bipartisan speaker candidate to accelerate.
“There have been ongoing, informal conversations that have been undertaken over the last few days,” Jeffries said. “I think it’s a possibility those can accelerate now that Jim Jordan clearly does not have the votes to be speaker.”
Jeffries said Democrats are not using the phrase “power-sharing agreement because we recognize that Republicans temporarily hold the gavels. We respect that. We are not election deniers.”
“But what is clear, based on the track record during this congressional session, is that our Republican colleagues cannot govern on their own because they have members of the House Republican Conference who don’t want to do anything,” Jeffries said.
Jordan, co-founder of the far-right Freedom Caucus and one of the lawmakers who bolstered former President Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election, fell short of the votes needed to hold the gavel amid concerns about his agenda and frustrations with his history inside and outside of Congress.
Republican Reps. Don Bacon of Nebraska, Ken Buck of Colorado, Lori Chavez-DeRemer of Oregon, Anthony D’Esposito of New York, Mario Díaz-Balart of Florida, Jake Ellzey of Texas, Andrew Garbarino of New York, Carlos Giménez of Florida, Tony Gonzales of Texas, Kay Granger of Texas, John James of Michigan, Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, Jen Kiggans of Virginia, Nick LaLota of New York, Doug LaMalfa of California, Mike Lawler of New York, John Rutherford of Florida, Mike Simpson of Idaho, Victoria Spartz of Indiana and Steve Womack of Arkansas, as well as all Democrats voted against Jordan on the first ballot.
Florida Rep. Gus Bilirakis was the only Republican who didn’t vote because he was attending a funeral.
House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, of New York, said in her nomination speech that Jordan is a “patriot” who would “go after corruption and deliver accountability.”
“Jim is the voice of the American people who have felt voiceless for far too long,” Stefanik said. “Whether as Judiciary chair, conservative leader, or representative for his constituents in west central Ohio, whether on the wrestling mat or in the committee room, Jim Jordan is strategic, scrappy, tough and principled.”
House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar, of California, nominated Jeffries for speaker, saying he was the clear candidate for anyone who wanted a bipartisan path ahead.
“The choice before us is simple, come together on a bipartisan path forward, or take us over the cliff,” Aguilar said. “Abandon the extremism that is preventing us from getting things done, or triple down on division and dysfunction.”
“A vote today to make the architect of a nationwide abortion ban, a vocal election denier and an insurrection insider to the speaker of this House would be a terrible message to the country and our allies,” Aguilar said.
The tally had 212 votes for Jeffries, 200 votes for Jordan and 20 votes for other Republicans who weren’t officially running.
McCarthy ousted two weeks ago
The stalemate comes two weeks after eight House Republicans and Democrats voted to remove Kevin McCarthy as speaker about nine months into his tenure.
McCarthy had to hold 15 separate votes in January before he was able to become speaker and only after making several agreements behind closed doors with far-right members of the party.
After McCarthy announced he wouldn’t try again to become speaker, Louisiana’s Steve Scalise and Jordan announced their bids for the role.
Scalise, currently the majority leader, won the first secret ballot nomination vote within the House Republican Conference. But he never scheduled a floor vote and withdrew from the race after just one day.
Jordan had said after losing the first nomination vote that he would back Scalise on the floor, but several of his followers refused to support their party’s speaker nominee.
House Republicans huddled again Friday to take a second nomination vote for speaker, choosing between Jordan and Georgia’s Austin Scott.
Jordan won that nomination vote, but another secret ballot taken afterward showed that more than 50 House Republicans said they wouldn’t support him during a floor vote.
That gap dwindled over the weekend and throughout Monday as several Republicans who said they would never back Jordan during a floor vote announced public support.
Several holdouts remained heading into Tuesday’s floor vote, leaving Jordan short of the roughly 217 votes he would need to become speaker.
Those holdouts maintained their opposition throughout Tuesday.
“I’m voting for a good, solid, conservative Republican. That’s the only kind of person I’ll vote for,” Giménez said immediately following the vote. He voted for McCarthy.
Another GOP holdout, Rutherford of Florida, said that Republicans need to come to a consensus on their pick for speaker. Rutherford voted for Scalise.
“I think now we’re gonna have to find a consensus candidate,” he said, adding that he would support North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry.
Womack declined to comment on his vote, which was for Scalise, but said he “wants to find direction as to where the (Republican) conference is going right now.”
Díaz-Balart said he was not budging on his vote against Jordan, and still gave his support for Scalise, who he voted for.
“I am where I am,” Díaz-Balart said after the vote.
He also released a letter shortly after the first vote, requesting that the House “return immediately and begin a second vote on electing a new Speaker.” Several other Republicans such as Womack and Granger, both appropriators, agreed with Díaz-Balart.
Chavez-DeRemer, who voted for McCarthy on Tuesday, said she did so because he was the closest Republican to secure the necessary 217 votes, but that she would “continue to reassess where things stand as this process plays out.”
Chavez-DeRemer said she feared the chaos of the last few weeks would only continue under a Jordan speakership. With the Republican conference still bitterly divided, she said the chamber should empower McHenry.
“Until we can find clear consensus among the Republican Conference, it’s time to give expanded authority to Speaker Pro Tempore McHenry so the House can resume governing,” she wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry, chair of the House Freedom Caucus, said he’s confident Jordan will get enough votes later.
“Jim is a championed wrestler, who’s wrestled a lot of rounds,” Perry said. “I think he can go the distance.”
Attempt to expand McHenry powers
Pennsylvania’s Kelly introduced a resolution Monday night to elect McHenry as speaker pro tempore for up to 30 days. Approving that resolution would expand McHenry’s powers beyond what they are as the speaker pro tempore by designation, Kelly said.
Under the resolution, McHenry would stay in the role until Nov. 17 — the same day government funding is set to expire — or until a new speaker is elected, whichever is first.
McHenry has been serving as the speaker pro tempore by McCarthy’s designation under a process put in place to ensure continuity of government following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
When asked by reporters if he would switch his vote from Scalise to Jordan, Kelly said he would not.
“No, I can’t because we had already elected somebody to be our speaker,” Kelly said, referring to the conference’s nomination of Scalise.
Spartz of Indiana told reporters on her way into the chamber that she would vote present if the vote count was not in Jordan’s favor, but she ended up voting for Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie instead.
On Monday night Spartz said she believed “intimidation techniques” were used to “push people on the floor before we find consensus.”
LaMalfa, who voted for McCarthy in the first round, said the process to reach a speaker nominee was “terrible” but that he’ll pivot to Jordan on the second ballot.
“I’m voting for Jim Jordan because he’s a good guy, and he’s done good work on committee, and we need to move forward with this place today and get our work done.”
Jacob Fischler contributed to this report.
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