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Republicans Unable to Elect a New House Speaker

-Editorial

Conservative Republican Jim Jordan on Friday lost a third vote to become speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, leaving the leaderless chamber unable to respond to President Joe Biden’s request for aid to Ukraine and Israel.

The Republicans have no realistic or workable plan to unite the fractured GOP majority, elect a new speaker, and return to the work of Congress.

Following the successful motion to vacate the speakership of Kevin McCarthy of California on October 3, 2023, the members of the U.S. House of Representatives began holding an intra-term election for speaker of the House on October 17. McCarthy had previously been elected on January 7, 2023, after fifteen rounds of voting in the January speakership election at the start of the 118th Congress.

After the speakership was vacated on October 3, several different candidates for the Republican nomination were proposed including Jim Jordan of Ohio, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, and former President Donald Trump. On October 4, Jordan and Scalise announced their candidacies. That same day, Troy Nehls of Texas announced that he would nominate Trump for speaker. Trump publicly considered running for the position, even weighing a visit to the Capitol to gather support for his bid. On the evening of October 5, Trump announced in a post on Truth Social that he would not run for speaker and instead would endorse Jim Jordan.

Forty-five Republican representatives wrote an open letter objecting to McCarthy’s ejection from his position as speaker. The letter said the representatives were “ashamed and embarrassed by what happened”, and praising McCarthy’s performance as “one of the most accomplished Republican leaders in modern history”.

On October 13, Jim Jordan was nominated by the House Republican Conference. Jordan defeated Austin Scott in a 124–81 vote. Immediately after, the conference had a validation vote to see if the Representatives would vote for Jordan on the floor. In the vote, Jordan received 152 votes, well below the 217 votes needed to become speaker.  Despite not having the votes to become speaker, Jordan said he intended to hold a Speaker vote on the floor on Tuesday, October 17. To build support for his candidacy, lawmakers and activists allied with Jordan took to interviews and social media to pressure Republicans to back Jordan. Several Republicans reported receiving threatening phone calls and text messages after voting against Jordan on the House floor. Jordan called for a stop to such threatening activities.

Observers noted that many of those opposed to Jordan’s nomination were from the moderate and more traditionally conservative wings of the party, many of whom represent competitive districts where voting for Jordan, seen as a right-wing figure, maybe politically detrimental. Several Republicans who voted against Jordan on the first two ballots reported receiving death threats and other threats to their safety, to themselves, and to their family members. Ken Buck, Drew Ferguson, and Mariannette Miller-Meeks each said they received death threats. Don Bacon said his wife received threatening messages, and Ferguson said credible threats prompted him to dispatch a sheriff to his daughter’s school.

 

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