Jim Jordan loses first vote to become speaker
By Luke Broadwater
Rep. Jim Jordan, the right-wing Republican hard-liner from Ohio, lost his first bid to be elected speaker Tuesday, prolonging a two-week fight that has paralyzed the chamber and shone a spotlight on deep GOP divisions.
Jordan, the combative co-founder of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus and a close ally of former President Donald Trump, fell 17 votes short of the majority he would have needed to prevail, despite a right-wing pressure campaign to win the support of mainstream Republicans who opposed him.
The group of GOP holdouts was larger than previously known and included some powerful members of the House, including Rep. Kay Granger of Texas, the chair of the Appropriations Committee, and several Republicans from politically competitive districts won by President Joe Biden.
Following the vote, Republicans immediately called a recess to allow them to regroup and chart a path forward.
Before the vote, he said he was willing to force multiple rounds — “Whatever it takes to get a speaker today.” And with his opponents’ names now on the record, right-wing activists were planning to bombard them with calls.
Democrats were united in voting for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the minority leader. Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, the No. 3 Democrat, delivered a blistering speech against Jordan, accusing him of “inciting violence on this chamber,” a reference to the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol — remarkably direct language about another lawmaker seldom heard on the House floor.
Jordan’s defeat prolonged the drawn-out Republican fight touched off by the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy by a band of far-right rebels, most of whom are allied with Jordan.
Two hundred Republicans voted for Jordan, leaving him well short of a majority, while 212 Democrats backed Jeffries, also too few to elect him. Twenty Republicans voted for others, including for McCarthy or for Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 2 leader who the party initially nominated to succeed McCarthy.
The chamber has been paralyzed since a far-right faction forced McCarthy out. Lawmakers had grown increasingly worried about the impact of continuing to operate without a duly elected speaker, including that the chamber might not be able act to support Israel as it wages war against the terrorist group Hamas.
In recent years, Jordan has embarked on an extraordinary rise in Congress that brought him to the cusp of the speakership. He was once a right-wing rebel on the fringe of his party who was described as a “legislative terrorist” by a former Republican speaker. His ascent is the clearest indicator yet of how far House Republicans have moved to the right and shows the strength of Trump’s grip on the party.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who formally nominated Jordan on the floor Tuesday, praised his bruising style. “Whether on the wrestling mat or committee room, Jim Jordan is strategic, scrappy, tough and principled,” she said.
Jordan, 59, is a close ally of Trump, with whom he speaks frequently. He played a key role in helping the former president plan his efforts to use Congress to overturn the 2020 election on Jan. 6, 2021. Since then, he has been a leading defender of Trump on Capitol Hill, using his committee to try to intervene in the various legal cases against him. Jordan is also a co-leader of the impeachment inquiry against Biden that Republicans are pursuing in the absence of any evidence linking him to high crimes or misdemeanors.