Jordan Secures GOP Speaker Nomination, But Still Needs to Shore Up More Votes

Lawrence Wilson
By Lawrence Wilson
October 13, 2023Congress

House Republicans have selected their second speaker nominee in three days and will now make a second attempt to bring their designee to a vote on the House floor.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) won the latest nomination on Oct. 13, defeating Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) 124-88.

The outcome came after five days of conference meetings and one failed nomination, setting up an election in the full House between Mr. Jordan against Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).

Many GOP members expressed eagerness to get the House of Representatives fully functioning after more than 10 days of inactivity. The body has been unable to conduct business since former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was removed from the chair on Oct. 3.

“This has been a very difficult couple of weeks. There have been lots of very legitimate grievances, and frankly a lot of mourning over the absolutely inexplicable and tragic motion to vacate last week,” Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) told reporters just ahead of the nominating vote.

“I think people are working through the stages of grief, and I think we’re getting to a point where people understand we got to get a speaker we get back to work,” he added.

To shore up support among supporters of Mr. Scott before proceeding to the House floor, Mr. Jordan requested a second, confirming ballot, which increased his total by 28.

However, a dozen members were not present and five fewer votes were cast on the second ballot. That means 69 Republicans either voted against Mr. Jordan a second time or have not made their intentions known.

The number needed to elect is 217 if all members are present and voting.

Tumultuous Week

Mr. Jordan, a veteran congressman and founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, was not the first or even second choice of the majority of Republicans.

Mr. McCarthy, after 15 ballot rounds, was elected speaker in January by 216 of the 221 House Republicans. On Oct. 3, 213 Republicans voted to retain him as speaker. He was removed by just 8 Republican votes, supported by 208 Democrats—because the first ever speaker be voted out of the position.

House Republicans met on Oct. 11 to nominate Mr. McCarthy’s replacement. Despite having gained the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, Mr. Jordan lost that contest to Mr. Scalise 113-99.

However, a small number of Mr. Jordan’s supporters, 15-20 by most estimates, refused to support the majority choice. Unable to win their support, Mr. Scalise withdrew from the race a day later.

At that, members began to voice their increasing frustration with one another and call for an end to the seemingly endless disagreements.

“I have had enough, and I think you have too,” Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) wrote to GOP members on Oct. 12. “Let’s start acting like the majority again.”

Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.) also wrote to colleagues, urging them to “lock the door, and not adjourn until we have selected our new Speaker.”

A significant number of Republicans were simply eager to get back to work and said they would support either Mr. Scalise or Mr. Jordan, or perhaps an alternative candidate.

“At the end of the day, I would be happy to support Jim Jordan or Steve Scalise—or maybe there’s another person—but we just need to get it done because I’m getting frustrated with everyone being petty about their reasons … when we have a government to run,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) told reporters.

On the morning of Oct. 13, House Republicans convened once again to reconcile their differences. Mr. Jordan and Mr. Scott declared their candidacies for the speakership. After a midday break, the group met once again and chose Mr. Jordan as the speaker designee.

Floor Vote Ahead

The electron of a speaker now moves to the House floor. That vote is expected to take place on Oct. 17, according to one lawmaker.

The delay in holding the floor vote was partly to allow lawmakers to attend to family matters, according to Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.).

“You get a lot of funerals and weddings scheduled on Saturday. And there is also the human element. I know that there are parents in hospice. I know there are children in the hospital,” Mr. Johnson told reporters after the nomination vote.

Eager to avoid a repeat of the floor fight that accompanied the election of Mr. McCarthy, which required 15 ballots over four days, members had introduced potential rule changes to ensure near unanimity among Republicans.

Four conference rule amendments were put forward on Friday that would have required the commitment of at least 80 percent of the conference for the nominee before proceeding to a House election. All four amendments were either tabled or withdrawn, allowing the GOP to nominate a speaker designee by a simple majority vote.

However, other GOP members were unconcerned about the possibility of a multiple-ballot election in the full House.

“Everybody made a big deal about it in January, but nobody’s talking about it now,” Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) told reporters during the nominating conference.

Republicans were about evenly split on whether to remain in conference until achieving unity or proceeding to the House floor without airtight support for a nominee, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) told reporters on Oct. 12.

Since the establishment of Congress in 1798, multiple ballots have been required to achieve a majority just 15 times.

Ryusuke Abe contributed to this report. 

From The Epoch Times

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