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Republicans drop Jim Jordan's US House speaker bid after third failed vote

Published 10/20/2023, 06:01 AM
Updated 10/20/2023, 07:47 PM
© Reuters.  Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) departs a House Republican Conference meeting about choosing a new Speaker of the House after it was reported that Jordan vowed to continue his floundering bid for the speakership at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., October 19

By Katharine Jackson, Gram Slattery and David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hardline conservative Republican Jim Jordan's quest to become speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives ended on Friday as his fellow Republicans revoked their support following a third, failed vote on the House floor.

That means that the House until at least next week will remain unable to respond to President Joe Biden's request for a $106 billion national-security package including military aid for Ukraine and Israel or take action to stave off a looming Nov. 18 partial government shutdown.

Support for Jordan's candidacy faded over the course of the week. He received 194 votes in a third round of balloting on Friday, down from the 200 votes he received on Tuesday and well short of the majority he needed to claim the speaker's gavel.

Republicans then voted 112-86 to revoke Jordan's nomination in a closed-door meeting.

"It was an honor to be their speaker designee," Jordan told reporters after the meeting. "We need to come together to figure out who our speaker is going to be. I’m going to work as hard as I can to help that individual."

It is not clear who Republicans might turn to next.

"We'll have to go back to the drawing board," said Representative Kevin McCarthy, who was ousted as speaker by a small faction of his fellow Republicans on Oct. 3.

McCarthy later endorsed Representative Tom Emmer, the No. 3 House Republican. At least four other lawmakers have said they would run for the job, with possibly more to come.

Republicans control the House by a narrow 221-212 majority and can afford few defections on party-line votes, a vulnerability highlighted by the current display of legislative dysfunction.

Aside from McCarthy and Jordan, Republicans have also rejected their No. 2, Steve Scalise, who won the nomination last week but dropped out after he was unable to consolidate support.

Lawmakers said they would hear from candidates on Monday evening, with a possible vote on Tuesday. Aside from Emmer, candidates include Kevin Hern, who leads a conservative policy group, and Austin Scott, a low-profile lawmaker who mounted a brief speaker bid last week.

Republicans have already considered and rejected a backup option that would allow the House take up pressing matters, like Biden's aid package or funding for the U.S. government that is due to expire on Nov. 17.

That plan would give more authority to Republican Representative Patrick McHenry, who is filling the speaker's chair on a temporary basis. House Democrats and the White House have said they are open to the idea, but Republicans opted not to pursue it on Thursday.

McHenry himself has not publicly backed the plan. He told reporters on Friday that he hoped to return to his previous post as chair of the Financial Services Committee.

'PROBLEMS WITH THE 2020 ELECTION'

A close ally of Donald Trump, Jordan was a "significant player" in the former president's attempts to overturn Biden's 2020 election win, according to a congressional investigation.

"I think there were all kinds of problems with the 2020 election, and I've been clear about that," he said at a news conference before the vote.

Jordan has built his reputation as a leader of the party's uncompromising right flank. He helped to engineer government shutdowns in 2013 and 2018 and helped to push Republican Speaker John Boehner into retirement in 2015.

His backers said that would make him an effective fighter for conservative policies in a town where Democrats control the Senate and the White House.

But Jordan's bare-knuckle approach seems to have worked against him, as some of his Republican opponents have been outraged by a pressure campaign organized by his supporters that resulted in harassing phone calls and death threats.

Jordan's allies said that should not matter. "All of us in Congress receive death threats. I don't know if that's a news flash for anybody here," Representative Scott Perry said.

Still, 25 Republican lawmakers voted against him in Friday's vote, more than the 20 who voted against him on Tuesday.

Jordan's vote total of 194 was less than McCarthy netted in any of the 15 grueling rounds of voting in January.

Democrats called Jordan a dangerous extremist and unanimously voted against him in all three floor votes.

"Their nominee's vision is a direct attack on the freedom and the rights of the American people, and he's got the record to prove it," Democratic Representative Katherine Clark said on the House floor.

© Reuters. U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) speaks to reporters during an early morning press conference about his continuing bid to become the next Speaker of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., October 20, 2023. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Jordan's Republican opponents declined to celebrate in the wake of his defeat.

"I'm not feeling too good about any of this," said Representative Mario Diaz-Balart. "The only thing that's positive is that now we can get back to trying to elect the speaker who has the support of the conference."

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