Republican Representative Jim Jordan’s quest to become the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives encountered formidable opposition as he fell short in the initial vote, leaving the crucial position in limbo.
The right-wing Ohio congressman faced unexpected resistance from fellow Republicans, with 20 members refusing to support his candidacy.
Despite a relentless lobbying effort, Mr. Jordan opted to postpone a second vote until Wednesday morning. This delay comes after the recent upheaval within the House, which saw the ousting of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy in a right-wing revolt, leaving the chamber leaderless.
The absence of a House Speaker has significant ramifications, as it impedes the legislative process, preventing the passage of bills and the approval of White House requests for emergency aid, such as potential assistance for Israel during its conflict with Hamas.
In the initial ballot on Tuesday, Jim Jordan secured 200 votes, falling short of the 217 needed to clinch the Speaker’s position. Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic nominee from New York, garnered more votes, with 212, but as Democrats are the minority party in the House, this was insufficient for his election.
Mr. Jordan expressed determination, stating, “We’re making progress. I feel good about it. We’re gonna keep going.” However, he can only afford to lose four Republican votes in the chamber, which his party currently controls by a slim margin of 221-212.
Initially, the House Judiciary Committee chairman had proposed a second vote for Tuesday, but later announced that it would take place at 11:00 AM (15:00 GMT) on Wednesday.
In the first vote, Republicans who opposed Jim Jordan cast their votes for Kevin McCarthy, the former Speaker ousted on October 3, or selected other candidates. Surprisingly, three Republicans even voted for Lee Zeldin, a New York congressman who retired from the House in January this year.
Some New York Republicans opposed to Jordan cited his opposition to benefits for survivors of the 9/11 attacks and other political stances. However, Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican, described Mr. Jordan as “a patriot” and “an America First warrior.”
Notably, Jordan has a history of feuding with members of his own party and is a founding member of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, a group once labeled “legislative terrorists” by former Republican Speaker John Boehner.
Following the initial vote, Jim Jordan held meetings with some of the Republicans who voted against him, but it appears that some are reluctant to change their stance, and there’s even speculation that the number of votes against him may increase.
Colorado Republican Ken Buck expressed concerns about Jordan’s failure to acknowledge former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss to Joe Biden. Meanwhile, Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican, stated he did not feel pressured to change his vote and warned against attempts to intimidate him.
In a bid to address the Speaker vacuum, Lori Chavez-DeRemer of Oregon suggested granting interim Speaker Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, additional powers to enable the House to function during the impasse.
Byron Donalds, a Florida Republican who supports Mr. Jordan, expressed surprise at the significant opposition. In response to the turmoil within the Republican party, Democrats have portrayed Jim Jordan as an extremist, with California’s Pete Aguilar labeling him as “a vocal election denier.”
Nancy Pelosi, a two-time former Speaker, opined that Mr. Jordan had underestimated the resistance against him. She remarked that Republicans were “taking lessons on mathematics and how to count.”
In a news conference, Democratic minority leader Hakeem Jeffries offered to collaborate with Republicans to find a Speaker who could garner support from both parties. He stated, “There have been ongoing informal conversations that have been undertaken over the last few days,” adding, “There’s a possibility those can accelerate now that Jim Jordan clearly does not have the votes for Speaker.”
If support for Jim Jordan falters, the next potential Speaker candidate is Minnesota’s Tom Emmer, who holds the third-highest rank among House Republicans. This protracted Speaker election process follows the previous Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s lengthy battle in January, which took 15 rounds of voting over four days to secure the position.
The resistance to funding for the Ukraine war, particularly among Republican hardliners, including Jim Jordan himself, played a pivotal role in Mr. McCarthy’s ousting earlier this month.
The role of the House Speaker is crucial, as it stands second in line to the presidency after the vice-president. The ongoing uncertainty surrounding this position raises questions about the legislative future and political landscape in the United States.
This report will be updated as further developments unfold in the US House Speaker election.