Representative Jim Jordan closed in Monday night on the votes he needs to be the next US House speaker, but a band of Republican holdouts continues to threaten his bid.
(Bloomberg) — Representative Jim Jordan closed in Monday night on the votes he needs to be the next US House speaker, but a band of Republican holdouts continues to threaten his bid.
Jordan, a hardline conservative from Ohio, planned to press his candidacy in a vote on the House chamber floor as early as noon Tuesday.
“We’ve got a few more people we want to talk to, listen to, and then we’ll have a vote, tomorrow,” Jordan said as he left a closed-door conference with other House Republicans on Monday night.
His plan to proceed with a vote appeared to carry some risk, but a person familiar with the matter said he was prepared to press his case with multiple ballots, if necessary. With Republicans holding a slender majority in the chamber, Jordan can’t lose more than four votes in party-line balloting with Democrats, who will be backing their own leader, Hakeem Jeffries.
For now, GOP Representatives Mike Lawler of New York, Don Bacon of Nebraska, Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, Ken Buck of Colorado as well as Carlos Gimenez and Mario Diaz-Balart, both of Florida, were among those saying Monday night that they’d vote against him, at least initially. Others, including Victoria Spartz of Indiana, said they were still deciding. Attendance also could be an issue. At least one Republican, Gus Bilirakis of Florida, said he’d be away from Washington until Tuesday night, attending a funeral.
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Still, Jordan was seeing clear momentum by Monday afternoon in his quest to win the speaker’s gavel. He picked up the endorsements of three GOP defense hawks, who were swayed by his promise to fund the military and his vow to “destroy Hamas and support Israel.”
Hawkish Republicans have generally been hesitant to get behind Jordan, a Donald Trump loyalist who has supported an isolationist “America First” agenda. He has opposed Ukraine aid and sent conflicting messages in public and private on how he would handle the issue, and his hardline stances risk an automatic 1% cut to US defense spending next year.
After a weekend of arm-twisting and promise-making on national-security matters, Jordan won over Armed Services Chairman Mike Rogers; Ken Calvert, the top Republican on the Defense appropriations subcommittee; and Ann Wagner, who sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee.
“Not there yet, moving in the right direction,” Jordan said late Monday afternoon, declining to discuss how many votes he still needed.
Representative Tim Burchett, a Tennessee Republican, told Bloomberg Television’s “Balance of Power” on Monday evening that “I think he’s down to around eight votes.”
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The turnabouts came as Jordan outlined a plan for Israel that includes extensive aid, as well as oil and other sanctions on Iran. He also pledged in a letter to his colleagues to finance the military before a Nov. 17 federal budget deadline.
He’s also been revving up Trump supporters to pressure wavering Republican lawmakers.
Here’s what you need to know about the Ohio Republican who would be speaker:
House Freedom Caucus Founder
In January 2015, Jordan and several other ultra-conservatives broke from the more traditional Republican Study Committee to create a splinter group, the House Freedom Caucus. Jordan and his allies took on then-Speaker John Boehner, who ultimately resigned, and have vexed Republican speakers ever since. Jordan, serving as its first chair, described the caucus then as “a smaller, more cohesive, more agile and more active” group of conservatives. Boehner label Jordan a “legislative terrorist.”
Jordan, an evangelical Christian, has said that his opposition to abortion motivated him to get involved in politics. He is also a champion of deeply cutting federal spending, and wants to stamp out illegal immigration at the US-Mexico border. Democrats say a Jordan speakership will help them retake the House in 2024 because he would put off independent voters.
Jordan rose to prominence during Trump’s two impeachments in 2019 and 2021, serving as one of the former president’s most vociferous defenders on Capitol Hill. Now, he’s the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, one of three panels leading the Biden impeachment inquiry into overseas business dealings of members of Biden’s family, including his son Hunter.
He supported Trump’s denial of his loss in the 2020 presidential election and voted to overturn Arizona and Pennsylvania electoral college count results on January 6, 2021, after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol.
More Activist Than Legislator
Jordan, who eschews formalities like suit jackets, is a legislator who isn’t known for legislating. Since coming to Congress in 2007, he’s only sponsored about three-dozen bills, including just one this session of Congress. It prohibits Federal employees and contractors from directing social media platforms from censoring any speech that is protected by the First Amendment.
Jordan was a nationally recognized collegiate wrestler and later an assistant coach with Ohio State University’s wrestling program from 1987 to 1995. In recent years, Jordan has faced allegations that while at OSU he was aware that a team doctor sexually abused students. An independent probe found the doctor, Richard Strauss, abused at least 177 male students. Six former students told CNN in 2020 that Jordan knew about the abuse and did nothing to stop it. He’s denied ever knowing about the incidents.
–With assistance from Annmarie Hordern and Joe Mathieu.
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