Hardline Republican Jim Jordan picks up support in bid for US House speaker
- Web Desk
- Oct 16, 2023
WASHINGTON (Reuters): Hardline Republican Jim Jordan picked up support for his campaign to lead the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday as he aimed to bulldoze opposition from dozens within his own party by applying pressure in a series of public votes.
Several of Jordan’s fellow Republicans said they would support his bid for House Speaker, whittling down his opposition from the 55 lawmakers who had voted against endorsing on Friday. But it was still unclear whether he would be able to unite his party enough to prevail in a floor vote expected on Tuesday.
“I feel real good about the momentum we have,” Jordan told reporters. “We’re going to elect a speaker tomorrow.”
The political civil war that has consumed House Republicans largely behind closed doors since former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s ouster on Oct. 3 has already used up two weeks that Congress could have spent funding federal agencies ahead of a Nov. 17 shutdown deadline and aiding allies Israel and Ukraine in their wars.
The show of dysfunction stands out for being driven by Republican infighting rather than Congress’ more customary partisan squabbles.
In a letter to Republicans, Jordan acknowledged those differences and promised to prioritize military and spending legislation. “The principles that united as Republicans are far greater than the disagreements that divide us,” he wrote.
Jordan is due to address House Republicans behind closed doors at 6:30 pm EST (2230 GMT) on Monday, before a possible floor vote for speaker at noon EST (1600 GMT) on Tuesday.
Three Republican lawmakers, Ann Wagner, Mike Rogers and Ken Calvert, said on Monday they would support him after speaking with him about their concerns.
It was unclear how many Republican lawmakers still opposed Jordan’s bid, sources familiar with internal Republican discussions said on Monday. Jordan opponents blame him for undercutting the candidacy of No. 2 House Republican Steve Scalise, who won the endorsement last week but then withdrew after he was not able to consolidate support.
Jordan opponents also signaled they do not want to reward the eight Republicans who engineered
McCarthy’s October 3 ouster
“I don’t have an exact headcount. But my gut tells me we’re somewhere south of 10 who are still being recalcitrant,” Representative Chip Roy, a Jordan supported, told WSB Radio host Erik Erickson on Monday.
NARROW ROOM TO MANEUVER
Jordan can only afford to lose four Republican votes on the floor to secure the 217 he would need to win the speaker’s gavel if all Democrats oppose him.
He can afford to lose no more than four party votes from a slim 221-212 House Republican majority.
Jordan supporters have sought to mobilize voters against the holdouts.
“Make sure you’re watching C-SPAN and see what YOUR Rep does,” Representative Anna Paulina Luna wrote on social media over the weekend, referring to the TV channel that carries House votes live.
Moderate Republicans are talking with Democrats about a bipartisan agreement that would install a more centrist speaker and give the minority party a greater voice in the proceedings.
Even Jordan supporters recognize that possibility.
“If there is a need, if the radical … handful of people in the Republican side make us unable to return to general work on the House, then I think obviously a deal will have to be done,” Representative Mike Turner said on CBS on Sunday.
Up to now, Jordan, his supporters and other Republicans have pushed to keep the fight for the speakership behind closed doors to avoid a recurrence of the public spectacle in January, when hardliners forced McCarthy to weather 15 grueling floor votes before being elected.
But Jordan supporters are gambling that his endorsement by former President Donald Trump, and his popularity with the party’s Trump wing and other Republicans, will undermine opposition in a series of recorded public floor votes.
It is not clear how resolved establishment and centrist Republicans who oppose Jordan will prove to be in public.
But Jordan’s problems could extend beyond the dynamics of the speaker’s race.
The co-founder of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus – whose hardball tactics made him the bane of successive speakers – also faces a lack of trust among centrist Republicans who remember him as one of the chamber’s “legislative terrorists,” despite his recent alignment with McCarthy.
While McCarthy was the first speaker in U.S. history ousted by a vote of the chamber, the last two Republicans to hold the job – John Boehner and Paul Ryan – also left under pressure from their right flanks.
Some of Jordan’s opponents predict that other Republican candidates for speaker will jump into the race if he fails to get elected on the floor.
Should Jordan’s bid for speaker stall, Republicans have identified several possibilities including No. 3 House Republican Tom Emmer, conservative Representatives Kevin Hern and Byron Donalds as well as acting Speaker Patrick McHenry, who is presiding over the speaker election.