Republican Jim Jordan backs empowering Representative Patrick McHenry as a temporary speaker until January, giving the Trump loyalist time to try to build support to win the top House leadership spot, people familiar with the matter said.
(Bloomberg) — Republican Jim Jordan backs empowering Representative Patrick McHenry as a temporary speaker until January, giving the Trump loyalist time to try to build support to win the top House leadership spot, people familiar with the matter said.
But the idea provoked a fierce backlash from a number of conservative Republican lawmakers, raising doubts about its prospects unless backers forge an alliance with Democrats.
“Over half the Republicans in the room won’t vote for it,” Jim Banks of Indiana, a conservative who is running for a Senate seat, said. “It’s a historic mistake.”
“The mood of the room is clear. Opposed,” Representative Pat Fallon of Texas said as he left a closed-door Republican meeting.
Jordan fell far short of the votes needed to become speaker in two rounds of balloting this week amid objections to his hardball tactics and deep divisions within the party.
Florida Republican Mario Diaz-Balart signaled his approval for an interim speaker, saying he would “support a proposal to get the conservative Republican agenda back on track.”
It’s unclear how long the interim period would last. One proposal would make McHenry temporary speaker through Jan. 3 and another contemplates a shorter period, running through Nov. 30. And the date could be revised as negotiations proceed.
Democrats have also been noncommittal about empowering McHenry and their votes could be needed if more than four Republicans vote against the resolution.
“If we’re going to be a lifeline, I think there’s going to be conditions,” said Democrat Raul Grijalva of Arizona.
The speaker’s office has been vacant for more than two weeks, leaving the House paralyzed. Lawmakers have been unable to address aid for Israel in its war with Hamas or consider funding measures to avoid an impending mid-November US government shutdown.
The caretaker position was established after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and has been largely interpreted as limited to presiding over the choice of a new speaker. McHenry was among those who’ve agreed with that interpretation.
(Updates starting in second paragraph with more detail on Republican pushback)
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