House Republicans are once again scrambling with no clear path to elect a new speaker after voting to push Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan out of the race, the latest sign of the chaos and divisions that have engulfed the majority party and left the chamber in a state of paralysis.
The stage is now set for new speaker hopefuls to emerge – and a number of Republicans jumped into the race shortly after Jordan’s exit. It is increasingly uncertain, however, whether any lawmaker can get the 217 votes needed to win the gavel while Republicans control such a narrow majority. Republicans are expected to hold a candidate forum Monday evening.
The House remains effectively frozen as long as there is no elected speaker. The paralysis has created a perilous situation as Congress faces the threat of a government shutdown next month and conflict unfolds abroad. The battle for the speakership has now dragged on for more than two weeks with no end in sight.
In a dramatic turn of events, the House GOP conference voted by secret ballot on Friday to drop Jordan as their speaker designee after he failed to win the gavel for the third time in a floor vote earlier in the day.
Jordan’s failure to win the gavel highlighted the limits of former President Donald Trump’s influence in the speaker’s race after he endorsed Jordan.
Speaking to reporters after the vote to push him out, Jordan said, “We need to come together and figure out who our speaker is going to be,” and said he told the conference, “It was an honor to be their speaker designee.”
The move by Republicans against Jordan came after three failed floor votes for his speaker bid and vows from the Ohio Republican to remain in the race despite mounting opposition against him.
In Friday’s floor vote, 25 House Republicans voted against Jordan – a higher number than in the two prior votes and far more than the handful of defectors Jordan could afford to lose and still win the gavel given the GOP’s narrow majority.
A number of Republicans left Friday’s closed-door meeting sounding more confused than ever about the path forward and who is best to lead them. Many expressed frustration and some called for reflection after the collapse of Jordan’s speakership bid. “We’re back to square one,” South Dakota Rep. Dusty Johnson said.
The field of potential candidates seeking to succeed McCarthy as the next speaker is already shaping up to be crowded and more are likely to announce in the coming days.
Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer, who serves as majority whip, is making calls to run, according to two sources. And McCarthy is backing him for speaker, sources tell CNN, delivering an early boost for his candidacy. McCarthy did not publicly endorse a candidate when Jordan and Scalise vied for the nomination.
Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma told CNN on Friday that “yes” he plans to run for speaker and said he’ll work “hard” to get people on his side. A spokesman for Rep. Jack Bergman of Michigan, meanwhile, told CNN he is also running for the role.
Now that the field is wide open, Georgia Rep. Austin Scott, who launched a last-minute bid against Jordan last week, but quickly dropped out and then supported Jordan, is running again, his spokesperson told CNN.
Rep. Patrick McHenry, the interim House speaker, said that Republicans will gather Monday for a candidate forum. “We need space and time for candidates to talk to other members,” he said.
When the vote count against Jordan increased to 25 House Republicans, there were three new GOP votes in opposition – Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Tom Kean of New Jersey and Marc Molinaro of New York.
Kean said in a statement explaining his position, “it has become evident that Chairman Jordan does not and will not have the votes to become Speaker.”
Some Republicans who have oppose Jordan decried what they described as a pressure campaign against them by allies of the Ohio Republican. And several Republicans who opposed Jordan’s speakership bid have said they experienced angry calls, menacing messages and even death threats since casting their votes. Jordan has condemned the threats.
A closed-door House GOP conference meeting on Thursday turned heated, multiple sources told CNN. Some members encouraged Jordan to drop out of the race. There was also an emotional discussion over the threats some Jordan holdouts are facing. Later, members leaving the meeting described it as an airing of grievances with tensions running high.
Some Republicans looking for a way to break the impasse have suggested expanding the powers of McHenry – a controversial move that would put the House even further into uncharted territory. But there is widespread opposition within the Republican conference to the idea.
This story has been updated with additional developments.