Watch: The House is voting again on Rep. Jim Jordan's nomination as House speaker
Updated October 18, 2023 at 12:12 PM ET
Rep. Jim Jordan, the House GOP's nominee to serve as the next speaker continues to struggle to get the votes to be elected by the full House, heading into a second vote on Wednesday.
"We're working on it," Jordan told reporter ahead of the vote, but multiple GOP lawmakers indicated the momentum for his effort to gain the gavel had shifted.
On Tuesday 20 Republicans voted against Jordan, a significant blow to the conservative's campaign, with some saying the aggressive tactics his allies on the Hill and in right-wing media increased resistance to his candidacy. Even some of the Ohio Republicans' supporters conceded they were surprised by the size of the opposition.
Some of those who opposed his candidacy are predicting he will lose more votes today.
Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz Balart voted for Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., who was forced to withdraw his name for speaker after he won the internal vote but failed to lock in enough votes to win on the House floor. Diaz-Balart told reporters he remains opposed to Jordan. "I think it gets more and more difficult for him every day."
He predicted that there would be a "pick up" in the number of votes of GOP members voting for other people on the second ballot. He said the strategy from Jordan allies, which he described as intimidating and threatening people has "backfired dramatically." He didn't name Jordan as the one to blame, or specify any threats he received, but noted that the GOP conference needs to sort out a way forward.
Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., a supporter of Jordan's it was kind of like "deja vu all over again as Yogi Berra used to say, " after Jordan failed to get the votes on the floor. He suggested that "probably about half" of that group could flip and support Jordan. But he also admitted some others could emerge as possible alternative candidates, like Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., the current head of a large group of fiscal conservatives called the Republican Study Committee or Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., a former chair of the RSC.
"I don't either of them have many detractors if that's the correct word for it," Murphy told reporters.
Some GOP lawmakers frustrated at the ongoing dysfunction heading into a third week without a speaker are pushing a proposal to empower Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., with some additional powers to bring up legislative business as the effort to coalesce a permanent speaker continues. McHenry has repeatedly insisted the role is ceremonial, to preside over the election of a new speaker, and he's not interested in the job permanently. He continues to back Jordan.
For Jordan's part, he said he's aware of efforts to put a resolution on the floor to empower McHenry.
"I got 90% of vote yesterday, got a huge cross section of our conference from the conservatives to people in the middle to more liberal members and so I think that's the best route," he told reporters shortly before Wednesday's vote. "But you know what? People are talking about this resolution. I told leadership call the question."
But GOP lawmakers are growing incredibly worried that no one in the House GOP conference can win the 217 votes needed to be elected as the next speaker. After McCarthy was ousted there was a small group floating the idea that McHenry could be given more authority to run the House and allow votes on bills. Some have been in discussions with the House parliamentarian. Currently the House is paralyzed without a speaker, and with a deadline to avoid another government shutdown less than a month away and wars in Israel and Ukraine intensifying there is concern that the chamber needs to be able to pass legislation funding federal agencies and supporting U.S. allies.
If Jordan fails to get the votes on the second ballot on Wednesday a GOP source familiar with the plans tells NPR that there is a plan to introduce resolution to officially augment what McHenry can do in the temporary role.
"After two weeks without a Speaker of the House and no clear candidate with 217 votes in the Republican conference, it is time to look at other viable options. By empowering Patrick McHenry as Speaker Pro Tempore we can take care of our ally Israel until a new speaker is elected," Ohio GOP. Rep David Joyce told NPR in a written statement.
But the details of the resolution were unclear. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., told reporters Tuesday he was open to discussions with Republicans who were interested in governing.
Any effort to empower McHenry would require a House vote needing the same majority vote as electing a speaker. That would almost certainly require votes from Democrats. Some Democrats have suggested they would want assurances that McHenry would allow votes on bipartisan spending bills, aide to Ukraine, and other measures that could pass.
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