Republicans Nominate Steve Scalise to Replace McCarthy as House Speaker – House Republicans put forward Steve Scalise as their nominee for the next speaker, following the surprising removal of Kevin McCarthy a week prior. However, objections to Scalise’s nomination prevented House Republicans from progressing to a final floor vote, leaving the timeline for the election of a new speaker uncertain.
In the vote, Scalise, who currently holds the second-highest position among House Republicans, secured a victory with 113 votes, defeating a challenge from Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, who chairs the judiciary committee and is known for his far-right views. Nevertheless, the outcome fell significantly short of the 217 votes required to officially elect a speaker on the House floor.
The House Republicans experienced chaos and division, leading to 15 rounds of balloting before eventually uniting behind McCarthy earlier this year. As of Wednesday afternoon, the timing for a potential floor vote to elect Scalise remained unclear, with the House briefly holding a pro forma session and then going into recess. In the upcoming vote, with the participation of all 433 current House members, Scalise can only tolerate four defections within the Republican conference and still secure the speakership.
“Obviously we still have work to do,” Scalise said after winning the nomination. “We need to make sure we’re sending a message to people all throughout the world that the House is open and doing the people’s business.” Following their conference meeting on Wednesday afternoon, a few of Jordan’s supporters, including Congresswoman Lauren Boebert from Colorado, signaled their intention to continue supporting Jordan during the floor vote.
“We had a chance to unify the party behind closed doors, but the Swamp and K Street lobbyists prevented that,” Boebert said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “The American people deserve a real change in leadership, not a continuation of the status quo.” Despite receiving support from his allies, Jordan seemed prepared to endorse Scalise on the floor. A source with direct insight into the situation revealed that Jordan intends to cast his vote in favor of Scalise and has urged his fellow colleagues to do the same.
Additionally, Jordan has offered to deliver the nominating speech for Scalise, as reported by the source. However, Jordan’s encouragement has not yet convinced some of Scalise’s critics. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a staunch conservative Republican from Georgia, stated that she would not back Scalise due to concerns about his health, given that the congressman is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment for blood cancer.
“I will be voting for Jim Jordan on the House floor,” Greene said on X. “I like Steve Scalise, and I like him so much that I want to see him defeat cancer more than sacrifice his health in the most difficult position in Congress.” On Tuesday, a few members had hinted at their preference for an alternative candidate or even Kevin McCarthy. However, McCarthy, who had previously indicated he might consider returning to the position, stated on Tuesday that he had asked his caucus not to nominate him again for the role.
After a meeting with Scalise on Wednesday, McCarthy reaffirmed his intention to support his former deputy. Of the Republican holdouts, McCarthy said: “Steve’s going to have to talk to them all, see what the concerns are. But I’m supporting Steve.” The fragility of the Republicans’ hold on power was evident last week when Kevin McCarthy became the first House speaker in U.S. history to be ousted from his position.
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Eight Republicans, led by the staunchly conservative congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida, aligned with House Democrats to unseat McCarthy as speaker. While the House remains unable to conduct its regular business, Patrick McHenry, the Republican congressman from North Carolina, will continue in his role as the acting speaker until a new leader is selected. Republicans aim to select a speaker by the week’s end, hoping to prevent a repeat of the January chaos.
A swift election would enable Republicans to shift their focus to the situation in Israel following the recent Hamas attacks. On Tuesday, Michael McCaul of Texas, the Republican chair of the House foreign affairs committee, and Gregory Meeks of New York, the committee’s leading Democrat, introduced a bipartisan resolution showing support for Israel. As he entered the conference meeting on Wednesday, Scalise emphasized that the resolution would be his primary concern if he assumes the speakership.