Jordan loses 2nd vote for speaker as House scrambles for path forward
By Catie Edmondson and Luke Broadwater
Rep. Jim Jordan, the hard-line Republican from Ohio, lost a second bid for speaker Wednesday after running headlong into opposition from a bloc of mainstream GOP holdouts.
After he failed to win a majority Tuesday, Jordan was defeated again when the number of Republicans refusing to back him grew by two. The result left the House in turmoil, still leaderless after two weeks of Republican infighting.
“I think it gets more and more difficult for him every day,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, one of the holdouts, predicted before the vote.
Republicans were expected to turn later to the question of whether to empower Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina — the temporary speaker whose role is primarily to hold an election for a speaker — to carry out the chamber’s work until the deadlock could be broken, perhaps through Jan. 3. Jordan told reporters Wednesday morning that he supported holding a vote on whether Republicans wanted to do so, saying he had told leaders, “Call the question. Let’s find out.”
Jordan’s second defeat was a rare instance of the party’s more mainstream wing — normally those who seek compromise and conciliation — flexing its muscles and breaking with Republican colleagues in defiance of the ultraconservative faction led by Jordan. It also underscored the seemingly intractable divisions among Republicans, as well as the near-impossible political math that led to the ouster of Kevin McCarthy as speaker two weeks ago and which has so far thwarted the party’s attempts to choose a successor.
As the feuding drags on, the House remains without an elected speaker with wars raging in the Middle East and Ukraine, while Congress faces a mid-November deadline to avert a government shutdown.
The House is in recess while Republicans regroup. Here’s what else to know:
— Jordan won 199 votes, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the Democratic leader, won 212 votes. Four Republicans who had voted for Jordan on the first ballot rose to oppose him. Two Republicans who had voted against Jordan on the first ballot changed their votes and supported him.
— Many of the holdouts to Jordan’s candidacy were skeptical of his history as a right-wing rabble-rouser and furious with the way he and his backers refused to line up behind Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the party’s No. 2, who first won the party’s speaker nomination last week only to withdraw because he lacked the hard-liners’ support. Some represented districts that President Joe Biden won in 2020 who have tried to establish more moderate credentials. Others are veteran members of the powerful Appropriations Committee, who are deeply distrustful of Jordan’s approach to spending and the types of cuts he has endorsed.
— Jordan’s allies unleashed a pressure campaign over the weekend on lawmakers who refused to back the Ohio Republican or were publicly undecided. It won him a few votes but appeared to have mostly backfired, instead infuriating the holdouts.
— The combative co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus and a close ally of former President Donald Trump, Jordan fell 17 votes short Tuesday and 18 short Wednesday. But the fact that 199 Republicans — including many of those more mainstream members — voted to give him the job second in line to the presidency showed how far the GOP has lurched to the right.
— Jordan, 59, helped Trump try to overturn the 2020 election and has used his power in Congress to defend the former president. He has a long track record of opposing compromise that prompted a previous Republican speaker to brand him a “legislative terrorist.”