In spite of vigorous lobbying efforts, 20 Republicans stood firm in their refusal to vote for the right-wing Ohio congressman, Jim Jordan. The Trump ally was compelled to shelve plans for another vote until Wednesday morning.
Since Kevin McCarthy was removed as Speaker of the House of Representatives two weeks ago in a right-wing coup, the chamber has been without a speaker. Due to this lack of authority, the House is unable to pass legislation or consent to emergency aid requests from the White House, including potential support for Israel in its fight with Hamas.
During the initial ballot on Tuesday, Mr. Jordan garnered 200 votes, but he needs at least 217 to secure the Speaker’s gavel. In contrast, the Democratic nominee, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, received 212 votes, which was insufficient, given that Democrats are the minority party in the House.
Despite these challenges, Mr. Jordan remains resolute, vowing to press on and expressing confidence in his ultimate success. He can only afford to lose four Republican votes in a chamber where his party holds a narrow 221-212 majority.
Initially, the House Judiciary Committee chairman had announced a second vote for Tuesday but later rescheduled it for 11:00 (15:00 GMT) on Wednesday.
Many Republicans who declined to support Mr. Jordan instead cast their votes for Kevin McCarthy, the former Speaker ousted on October 3, or opted for other candidates. Remarkably, three even voted for Lee Zeldin, a New York congressman who retired earlier this year.
A faction of New York Republicans who opposed Mr. Jordan cited his opposition to benefits for survivors of the 9/11 attacks and other political stances. However, Elise Stefanik, another New York Republican, praised Mr. Jordan as “a patriot and an America First warrior who wins the toughest of fights.”
Mr. Jordan has a history of feuding with members of his own party and is a founding member of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, which was once referred to as “legislative terrorists” by former Republican Speaker John Boehner.
Following Tuesday’s vote, Mr. Jordan held meetings with some of the Republicans who voted against him. However, several indicated they would not change their stance, and some even suggested that the number of votes against Mr. Jordan could increase.
Colorado Republican Ken Buck pointed out that Mr. Jordan had not acknowledged former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss to Joe Biden. Another Republican who voted against Mr. Jordan, Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, expressed no pressure to change his vote and warned against any attempts at intimidation.
Another of Mr. Jordan’s rivals, Oregon’s Lori Chavez-DeRemer, suggested giving temporary Speaker Patrick McHenry, a Republican from North Carolina, more authority in order to keep the House operating during this standoff.
Byron Donalds, a Florida Republican supporting Mr. Jordan, expressed surprise at the number of votes against him, while Democrats seized on the Republican division, portraying Mr. Jordan as an extremist.
California’s Pete Aguilar characterized Mr. Jordan as “a vocal election denier,” and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested that he had underestimated the resistance to his candidacy, stating that Republicans needed to “take lessons on mathematics and how to count.”
In a news conference, Democratic minority leader Mr. Jeffries extended an offer to collaborate with Republicans to find a Speaker who could garner support from both parties. He said, “There have been ongoing informal conversations that have been undertaken over the last few days.”
Further, he added,” here’s a possibility those can accelerate now that Jim Jordan clearly does not have the votes for Speaker.”
If the support for Mr. Jordan collapses, Minnesota’s Tom Emmer will be the next potential Speaker candidate and the third highest-ranking Republican in the House. The previous Speaker, Mr. McCarthy, needed 15 rounds of voting over four days in January to secure the position.
Notably, resistance from Republican hardliners, including Mr. Jordan himself, to funding for the Ukraine war played a role in the unprecedented vote that led to Mr. McCarthy’s removal earlier this month.
The speakership is the second-highest position in the line of presidential succession, following the vice president.