Ohio’s Jim Jordan fails in bid for U.S. House speaker, leaving chamber paralyzed again
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House rejected Ohio’s Jim Jordan as a candidate for speaker on Tuesday in the first round of voting, though the chamber was expected to potentially conduct additional votes on Jordan’s bid later in the day.
Jordan, co-founder of the far-right Freedom Caucus and one of the lawmakers who bolstered former President Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election, was unable to clinch the votes needed to hold the gavel amid concerns about his agenda and frustrations with his history inside and outside of Congress. The House has now gone two weeks without a speaker.
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Republican Reps. Don Bacon of Nebraska, Ken Buck of Colorado, Lori Chavez-DeRemer of Oregon, Anthony D’Esposito of New York, Mario Díaz-Balart of Florida, Jake Ellzey of Texas, Andrew Garbarino of New York, Carlos Giménez of Florida, Tony Gonzales of Texas, Kay Granger of Texas, John James of Michigan, Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, Jen Kiggans of Virginia, Nick LaLota of New York, Doug LaMalfa of California, Mike Lawler of New York, John Rutherford of Florida, Mike Simpson of Idaho, Victoria Spartz of Indiana and Steve Womack of Arkansas, as well as all Democrats, voted against Jordan on the first ballot.
Florida Rep. Gus Bilirakis was the only Republican that didn’t vote.
House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, of New York, said in her nomination speech that Jordan is a “patriot” who would “go after corruption and deliver accountability.”
“Jim is the voice of the American people who have felt voiceless for far too long,” Stefanik said. “Whether as Judiciary chair, conservative leader, or representative for his constituents in west central Ohio, whether on the wrestling mat or in the committee room, Jim Jordan is strategic, scrappy, tough and principled.”
House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar, of California, nominated New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries for speaker, saying he was the clear candidate for anyone who wanted a bipartisan path ahead.
“The choice before us is simple, come together on a bipartisan path forward, or take us over the cliff,” Aguilar said. “Abandon the extremism that is preventing us from getting things done, or triple down on division and dysfunction.”
A vote today to make the architect of a nationwide abortion ban, a vocal election denier and an insurrection insider to the speaker of this House would be a terrible message to the country and our allies,” Aguilar said.
There was no majority of the vote needed to elect a speaker with Jeffries receiving 212 votes and Jordan receiving 200, while other lawmakers got some of the Republican votes.
McCarthy ousted two weeks ago
The stalemate comes two weeks after eight House Republicans and Democrats voted to remove Kevin McCarthy as speaker about nine months into his tenure.
McCarthy had to hold 15 separate votes in January before he was able to become speaker and only after making several agreements behind closed doors with far-right members of the party.
After McCarthy announced he wouldn’t try again to become speaker, Louisiana’s Steve Scalise and Jordan announced their bids for the role.
Scalise, currently the majority leader, won the first secret ballot nomination vote within the House Republican Conference. But he never scheduled a floor vote and withdrew from the race after just one day.
Jordan had said after losing the first nomination vote that he would back Scalise on the floor, but several of his followers refused to back their party’s speaker nominee.
House Republicans huddled again Friday to take a second nomination vote for speaker, choosing between Jordan and Georgia’s Austin Scott.
Jordan won that nomination vote, but another secret ballot taken afterward showed that more than 50 House Republicans said they wouldn’t support him during a floor vote.
That gap dwindled over the weekend and throughout Monday as several Republicans, who said they would never back Jordan during a floor vote, announced public support.
Several holdouts remained heading into Tuesday’s floor vote, leaving Jordan short of the roughly 217 votes he would need to become speaker.
Those holdouts maintained their opposition throughout the first ballot on Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m voting for a good, solid, conservative Republican. That’s the only kind of person I’ll vote for,” Giménez said immediately following the vote.
Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, said he anticipated that Jordan might not have all the votes on the first ballot, but he said he remained hopeful that those GOP holdouts would flip.
“A lot of the people who are holding out are very reasonable people,” Johnson said. “It’s my assessment that when people stay at the table that a deal is possible.”
Chavez-DeRemer, who voted for McCarthy on the first ballot, said she did so because he was the closest Republican to secure the necessary 217 votes, but that she would “continue to reassess where things stand as this process plays out.”
Attempt to expand McHenry powers
Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Mike Kelly introduced a resolution Monday night to elect Rep. Patrick McHenry as speaker pro tempore for up to 30 days. Approving that resolution would expand McHenry’s powers beyond what they are as the speaker pro tempore by designation, Kelly said.
Under the resolution, McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, would stay in the role until Nov. 17 — the same day government funding is set to expire — or until a new speaker is elected, whichever is first.
McHenry has been serving as the speaker pro tempore by McCarthy’s designation under a process put in place to ensure continuity of government following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Chavez-DeRemer said she feared the chaos the last few weeks would only continue under a Jordan speakership. With the Republican conference still bitterly divided, she said the chamber should empower McHenry.
“Until we can find clear consensus among the Republican Conference, it’s time to give expanded authority to Speaker Pro Tempore McHenry so the House can resume governing,” she wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
Kelly of Pennsylvania voted for Rep. Steve Scalise on the first ballot.
“We have elections for a reason,” Kelly said shortly before the vote.
He said he would reassess his support on additional ballots.
Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana told reporters on her way into the chamber that she would vote present if the vote count was not in Jordan’s favor.
On Monday night she said she believed “intimidation techniques” were used to “push people on the floor before we find consensus.”
LaMalfa, who voted for McCarthy in the first round, said the process to reach a speaker nominee was “terrible” but that he’ll pivot to Jordan.
“I’m voting for Jim Jordan because he’s a good guy, and he’s done good work on committee, and we need to move forward with this place today and get our work done.”
Jacob Fischler contributed to this report.