GOP Drops Jim Jordan as the House Speaker Circus Drags On

After a week of fits and starts in Jim Jordan’s bid for House Speaker, Republicans huddled behind closed doors on Friday afternoon and voted for the Ohio lawmaker to step aside. The caucus’s decision to strip Jordan of the “Speaker designee” title came on the heels of him falling short, once again Friday morning, of the votes needed to win the gavel. 

Jordan started the day projecting confidence that he would eventually win the Speakership in an early morning press conference that was light on substance and sprinkled with election denial.

“There’s been multiple rounds of votes for Speaker before—we all know that,” Jordan said, a seeming reference to Kevin McCarthy’s drawn-out battle back in January. He signaled a willingness to push ahead with as many votes as it took. “Our plan this weekend is to get a Speaker elected to the House as soon as possible so we can help the American people,” he said.

But Jordan’s prospects quickly dimmed as the House voting was underway as the defections grew. Ultimately, Jordan garnered 194 votes—well shy of the 214 he needed Friday, given a number of absences on both sides of the aisle. The mood among Republicans was bleak as the vote concluded. “I think everybody realizes the times that we are in,” Arkansas representative Bruce Westerman told reporters, noting the crisis in the Middle East. “We need to get the House back open.” McCarthy, too, was blunt about the situation. “We are in a very bad place,” he said following the vote.

That the Republican conference didn’t rally around Jordan had seemed inevitable for days, however. Whereas McCarthy’s opposition in January was effectively just from his right flank, Jordan’s detractors span the party. On Thursday, members reportedly made it clear to the Ohioan that no amount of negotiation would sway them. And a bizarre last-ditch attempt by the group of eight lawmakers who voted to oust McCarthy earlier this month, offering themselves up for punishment in exchange for backing Jordan, fell flat.

Behind closed doors, the realities of Jordan’s prospects came into even sharper focus. According to Politico’s Olivia Beavers, a mere 86 Republicans reportedly voted for Jordan to continue with his bid, compared to 112 members that voted for him to step aside. (Five cast “present” votes.) With Jordan now out of the running, the GOP caucus is back at square one. They will convene for yet another candidate forum on Monday evening; a number of Republicans, like Tom Emmer, Kevin Hern, Byron Donalds, Jack Bergman, and Mike Johnson have already begun to throw their hats in the ring. A vote on the Speaker designee is expected Tuesday.

That’ll be three weeks since McCarthy was ousted in a historic vote on the House floor, a period of time in which the Republican majority has demonstrated their inability to govern. Whether any Republican has the sway and support to win 217 votes remains a question. The only thing Republicans accomplished this past week was exposing just how deep the fissures are within the party. Even an attempt to empower Patrick McHenry, who is serving as Speaker pro tempore, left the conference bitterly divided. “That seemed like a reasonable way to get out of this but it doesn’t seem like the Republicans want a way to get out of this. The Republicans are just not a working coalition,” Democrat Steve Cohen told Vanity Fair Friday afternoon.

Of the state of affairs, Cohen reflected, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

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