Republicans nominated Jim Jordan to be speaker of the US House, elevating a conservative firebrand in the fractured party’s second attempt to replace ousted GOP leader Kevin McCarthy.
(Bloomberg) — Republicans nominated Jim Jordan to be speaker of the US House, elevating a conservative firebrand in the fractured party’s second attempt to replace ousted GOP leader Kevin McCarthy.
Jordan still confronts serious challenges to winning the speakership as more moderate lawmakers in the party worry his hardline stances and record of pushing election conspiracy theories would be a liability in their reelections.
In a secret ballot immediately following Jordan’s nomination Friday — to gauge how many Republicans would back Jordan in a House floor vote — only 152 said they would, leaving him far short of the 217 he would need for election, multiple lawmakers said. Another 55 — more than a quarter — indicated they would not.
“We were shocked at the number of people who did not vote for him,” said Representative Daniel Webster of Florida, a Jordan supporter. “There was nowhere else to go, and they still didn’t want to go there.”
Party leaders sent lawmakers home for the weekend, with tentative plans for the House to vote Tuesday on a new speaker. The House can conduct no business, including approving new aid to Israel in its war against Hamas, until a new speaker is in place.
Bitter divisions among Republicans over tactics and ideology also have been compounded by hard feelings over McCarthy’s ouster and the refusal of a number of lawmakers to support the party’s initial nominee for a replacement, No. 2 GOP leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
Some Scalise allies have accused Jordan of undermining the Louisiana congressman’s bid for speaker even though Jordan publicly backed Scalise following his nomination.
Jordan, buoyed by former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, received 124 votes for the nomination against 81 for Representative Austin Scott of Georgia, who entered the race shortly before the secret ballot, according to multiple people in the room.
Election of Jordan as speaker would be a victory for Trump and his populist movement and defeat for the Republican establishment.
But being elected to the top House post requires at least 217 votes, a majority of the chamber. A razor-thin GOP majority means Jordan can’t afford more than four defections as Democrats show no signs of supporting him, unless some lawmakers don’t vote.
The Ohio congressman embraced Trump’s denial of the 2020 presidential election results and voted to overturn Arizona’s electoral college count on January 6, 2021, just as a mob of protesters stormed the US Capitol.
Still, some supporters argue Jordan’s popularity with Trump followers will make it difficult for lawmakers to vote against him.
“It will be very hard for folks to vote against a Republican who is very popular back home in their districts,” said ultra-conservative Representative Bob Good of Virginia.
Jordan has been a long-standing critic of US aid to Ukraine. On Friday, he told Republicans he supports Ukraine but was vague on whether he would support more funding, said Representative Kat Cammack of Florida.
The nomination comes a little more than a week after McCarthy became the first speaker in US history to be voted out of the job, after eight hardline Republicans joined with Democrats to force him aside. Several of those instigating the removal said they didn’t trust McCarthy because of deals he cut with Democrats to prevent breaching the debt ceiling and avoiding a government shutdown.
Jordan was the first-ever head of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus. He’s staunchly anti-abortion and a champion for deep federal spending cuts. He is also leading the effort to impeach President Joe Biden.
Former Representative Liz Cheney, the Republican vice-chair of the House Jan. 6 committee, said in a social media post that electing Jordan speaker would amount to House Republicans “abandoning the Constitution.”
She cited his close involvement in Trump’s campaign to overturn the 2020 election, including communications the panel uncovered showing Jordan lobbied then-Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count electoral votes from some states Biden won.
Jordan also has faced accusations from former Ohio State University wrestlers that as an assistant coach for them he ignored complaints that a team doctor engaged in sexual misconduct with student athletes. Jordan has denied he was aware of any such misconduct.
(Updates with gauge of Republican support for Jordan beginning with third paragraph)
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