Steve Scalise Drops Out of House Speaker Race – Steve Scalise, the House Majority Leader, has withdrawn from the race to become the next Speaker of the House. “I just shared with my colleagues that I’m withdrawing my name as a candidate for speaker-designee,” the Louisiana Republican told reporters Thursday after a meeting with the GOP conference. Despite his claims of being skilled at forming coalitions and uniting fellow Republicans, Scalise faced challenges in garnering support from the divided GOP conference.
Even after winning a secret ballot election on Wednesday to secure the position of speaker designate. “I was very clear we have to have everybody put their agendas on the side and focus on what this country needs, this country is counting on us to come back together,” Scalise said. “But there’s some folks that really need to look in the mirror over the next couple of days and decide are we going to get it back on track, or they’re going to try to pursue their own agenda,” he added.
He explained that “there are still schisms that have to get resolved.” Scalise refrained from stating whether he intended to endorse House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), whom he narrowly surpassed with a 113-99 victory in the closed-door ballot for the speakership nomination. The Louisiana Republican, who has been representing the 1st Congressional District of Louisiana in the House since 2008, indicated his intention to maintain his role as majority leader.
Scalise’s inability to secure the required 217 GOP votes for election on the House floor occurred after over three hours of private deliberations held at the Capitol on Thursday. Prior to his unexpected withdrawal, many members had expressed their commitment to either stand by Jordan, who received an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, or Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
This situation unfolded after McCarthy, who, on October 3, became the first Speaker of the House in history to be removed when eight Republicans joined forces with every Democrat to vote him out. “It’s not an easy task,” McCarthy predicted Thursday, when asked by reporters about Scalise’s path forward. “He told a lot of people he was going to be at 150 [conference votes] and he wasn’t there,” the former speaker added, noting “it’s a big hill” to climb.
During his withdrawal speech, Scalise strongly emphasized that he didn’t want to be viewed as an obstacle to the election of a new speaker. “I never came here for a title,” he said. “And it’s much bigger than me and it’s much bigger than anybody else and nobody’s going to use me as an excuse to hold back our ability to get the House opened again.” “But it wasn’t going to happen. It wasn’t gonna happen today, it wasn’t gonna happen tomorrow.”
Rep. Dan Meuser (D-Pa.), a Jordan supporter, praised Scalise for stepping aside amid the discord within the conference. “He put the country ahead of himself,” Meuser told reporters. With Scalise out, Jordan seems likely to contest for the nomination again, and one lawmaker suggested that he should be made speaker. Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-NC) concluded the House session not long after Scalise’s announcement.
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In alignment with Meuser and Banks, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) praised Scalise as a dedicated statesman and urged the party to promptly select a new speaker. “I am asking members of the GOP to return to Washington so that we can nominate a Speaker,” Luna tweeted. “Scalise is a statesman and acted in true selfless fashion by stepping aside. This needs to happen.”