Republicans Nominate Jim Jordan for House Speaker

Jim Jordan (Getty Images)
October 13, 2023

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday nominated Jim Jordan for speaker, setting up a vote that will test whether he can surmount the party divisions that led Steve Scalise to abandon his bid.

Representative Elise Stefanik, a member of the chamber's Republican leadership, said on social media that Jordan had won the closed-door vote, which had pit him against Austin Scott, a Georgia lawmaker who has kept a relatively low profile in his 12 years in Congress.

Republican infighting has left the House paralyzed for 10 days, as lawmakers have deadlocked over a successor to Kevin McCarthy, who was forced out by a small group of Republican insurgents on Oct. 3.

Some Republicans said their problems ran deeper than a simple lack of leadership.

"There's a lack of trust. There's a lack of transparency," said Representative Kat Cammack. "That's what we need to address before we can even really get to the speaker."

Jordan's next test is whether he can get the vote of 217 members of the full House in a vote on the floor.

"I think I can unite the conference, I think I can tell the country what we’re doing and why it matters," said Jordan, who tormented Republican leaders for years as a vocal advocate for the party's right wing.

But Jordan, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, faced skepticism from those who were angry that his supporters had failed to unite behind Scalise.

"I just think that Steve got a raw deal," said Representative Vern Buchanan.

Scott said he was running to put an end to the chaos.

"If we, as Republicans, are going to be the majority, we have to do the right things the right way. And we're not doing that right now," he said.

A successful candidate would need to secure 217 votes from the splintered 221-212 Republican majority to win the job, which Scalise was unable to do even though he has held the No. 2 leadership job for years.

Some members said they were pushing for a vote by the full house this weekend, once Republicans picked a nominee.

House paralyzed

Without a speaker, the House is at a deadlock as war expands in the Middle East, Russia continues to pound Ukraine and the government faces a Nov. 17 partial shutdown deadline without additional funding from Congress.

Some Republicans have suggested expanding Representative Patrick McHenry's powers as temporary speaker, which would enable the House to take up aid to Israel and other pressing matters.

Others have said they may need to strike a deal with Democrats, who have joined with Republican leaders several times this year to avert a government shutdown in September and a debt default in June. But Democrats said they had not heard from Republicans about that possibility.

Republicans have been hoping to avoid a repeat of the embarrassing spectacle that occurred in January, when hardline conservatives forced McCarthy to endure 15 floor votes over four days before winning the gavel.

Jordan backers said his confrontational style could help in negotiating with Democratic President Joe Biden and the Democratic-controlled Senate.

"We need someone who is tough, who's smart and can negotiate in that room. I think Jim Jordan can do it," said Representative Nicole Malliotakis.

While McCarthy was the first speaker in U.S. history ousted by a vote of the chamber, the last two Republicans to hold the job—John Boehner and Paul Ryan—also left under pressure from their right flanks.

(Reporting by David Morgan, Katharine Jackson, Moria Warburton and Richard Cowan; writing by Andy Sullivan; editing by Scott Malone, Gerry Doyle, and Jonathan Oatis)