By Shlomie Katash
The House GOP anonymously voted on Friday, Oct. 20, to move on from U.S. Representative Jim Jordan’s bid for speaker following three failed efforts to convince a majority of the body to vote for the Ohio Republican. Republicans must now continue their search for a candidate who can receive the approval of 217 members.
This shift officially marks the end of a third separate Republican candidate for speaker since the chamber’s flip in the 2022 midterms. Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy held the position from January until his ousting on Oct. 4, which was prompted by outrage surrounding McCarthy working with Democratic House members to avoid a government shutdown. It marked the first time in history that the House voted to eject the speaker.
“Kevin McCarthy is a creature of the swamp. He has risen to power by collecting special interest money and redistributing that money in exchange for favors. We are breaking the fever now,” said Representative Matt Gaetz, the leader of the push to find a replacement speaker, according to Reuters.
Shortly after McCarthy’s removal, Republicans chose to nominate Majority Leader Representative Steve Scalise for speaker, but his candidacy was short-lived – Scalise withdrew after one failed vote. The Louisiana Republican faced substantial opposition from those in the party who wished to see a shakeup in leadership and thus backed Jordan.
However, even with the backing of former President Donald Trump, Jordan was unable to build enough support to obtain the speakership.
“I think […] that we’re going to have the same problem with Jordan that we had with Scalise,” said Representative Mike Garcia, as reported by CNN. “I think it’s a math problem, frankly.”
The “math problem” Garcia is referring to is the limits that a slim 221-seat majority in the House has. Since a member needs 217 votes to be elected a speaker, and Democrats remain resolutely behind Representative Hakeem Jeffries, any Republican nominee could only spare four Republican “no” votes, a difficult reality to navigate.
Opposition to Jordan only seemed to grow the more he campaigned for the position – 20 Republicans voted against him in his first vote, only for that number to jump to 25 for his final attempt. The controversy surrounding Jordan’s candidacy stems from a scandal in his past related to the coverup of sexual abuse, his extreme views on limiting spending, the perception that he purposefully tanked Scalise’s nomination, and how outside support for him has harshly pressured members, including the use of death threats.
CNN reported that Minnesota Representative Tom Emmer has begun campaigning for the nomination, receiving an endorsement from McCarthy, who refused to endorse either Scalise or Jordan. It remains to be seen if Emmer will receive enough support from the wing of the party that backed Jordan.
With each passing day, the pressure grows on the chamber to find a leader before funding for the government runs out on Nov. 17. Without a speaker, the House cannot vote on any legislation that would avert a looming government shutdown.