House Republicans are barreling toward a floor vote on their Speaker nominee — Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — this week, even as the Judiciary Committee chairman remains far from the 217 votes needed to win the gavel on the House floor.
Jordan clinched the nomination for Speaker in a 124-81 vote Friday, beating his last-minute challenger, Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.). But when the conference members were asked if they would support Jordan’s nomination on the floor, the vote was 152-55 — leaving Jordan well short of the 217 votes needed to win the Speakership on the House floor.
The planned vote Tuesday is setting the stage for another public clash over the gavel, similar to the four-day, 15-ballot election that former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) went through in January.
Some Jordan backers are hoping that bringing his nomination to the floor — and forcing Republicans on the record — will increase the Ohio Republican’s support and put him within reach of the gavel. Jordan will be up against House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), whom Democrats unanimously nominated to be Speaker.
On Wednesday, all senators will receive a briefing on the situation in Israel and Gaza, after Hamas launched an attack on Israel earlier this month.
House GOP eyes Tuesday floor vote on Speaker
The office of House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) advised members Sunday that the first floor votes of the week are expected at noon Tuesday — despite Jordan having fallen short last week of the 217 votes needed to win the Speakership on the floor.
Some Republicans had aimed to ensure that the conference had enough support behind their Speaker nominee before a floor vote in order to avoid another public, drawn-out floor fight like McCarthy — now ousted from the post — endured in January.
But the conference rejected internal proposals to require 217 votes for nomination, and last week, it saw its first Speaker nominee, Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), drop out a day after getting the nomination, when it became clear that holdouts would not give him the support he needed to win on the House floor.
Now, hard-line GOP supporters of Jordan say the House should move on to a floor vote without delay — and some have been urging voters to call their congressmen to support Jordan.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that while he is supporting Jordan, the “high-pressure campaign” is the “dumbest way” to get people to support Jordan.
“And as somebody who wants Jim Jordan, the dumbest thing you can do is to continue pissing off those people and entrench them,” Crenshaw said.
There is some bad blood and hurt feelings in the GOP conference over Scalise not getting swift universal support last week. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), who had been whipping votes for Scalise, pointed to Jordan’s hard-line conservative allies withholding support for Scalise despite Jordan’s public endorsement last week as a reason to not support him.
“If you can’t get your own people to follow you, on a very simple thing like this, then I think you have an issue of leadership,” Diaz-Balart said.
Politico reported Sunday night that a group of House Republicans who do not support Jordan are vowing to have a challenger up against the Judiciary Committee chairman Tuesday, which they say will deny Jordan the gavel.
The House GOP conference is scheduled to meet behind closed doors at 6:30 p.m. Monday.
Supporters of Jordan are aware of the reality that the Ohio Republican, as things currently stand, does not have the votes to win the gavel on the House floor. But they are hopeful that work over the weekend will help get him to the subsequent 217 votes needed.
McCarthy told Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that Jordan has been speaking with holdouts to try and get them on board.
“As we walked away, he did not,” McCarthy said when asked if Jordan had the votes Sunday morning. “But that’s why we have time, walking away this weekend. I talked to Jim last night. He’s talking to every single member, assessing what their challenges are.”
“I think Jim Jordan can get the — can get the votes,” he later added.
But some members are already eying other nominees if Jordan, like Scalise, cannot secure the votes — or even options such as empowering Speaker Pro Tem Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) to move legislation or cutting a deal with Democrats to pick a Speaker.
“I think he’ll be able to get to 217. If not, we have other leaders in the House. And certainly, if there is a need if the radical, you know, almost just handful of people in the Republican side, make it unable … to be able to return to general work on the House, then I think obviously, there will be a deal [that] will have to be done,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner (R-Ohio) said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Potential next-round GOP candidates include Republican Study Committee Chairman Kevin Hern (Okla.), or House Republican Conference Vice Chairman Mike Johnson (La.) — who is supporting Jordan but has been getting calls from colleagues about a Speaker bid if Jordan cannot win. But McCarthy shot down those two names.
“I don’t — I don’t think either of them could — would come very short,” McCarthy told “Sunday Morning Futures” when asked about Hern and Johnson.
Biden administration officials to brief Senators on Israel/Gaza
Biden administration officials will brief all senators on the situation in Israel and Gaza on Wednesday from 3:30-5 p.m., a Senate source confirmed to The Hill, as the upper chamber reconvenes in Washington this week for the first time since war broke out in the Middle East.
Briefers include Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. C.Q. Brown.
At least 30 U.S. citizens have died in Israel since war broke out Oct. 7, a State Department official told CNN on Sunday. Thousands more have died amid the airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, according to CNN.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the highest-ranking Jewish official in U.S. history, traveled to Israel in recent days and pledged that Washington would continue to support Tel Aviv.
“We say this to the Israeli people: We have your back. We feel your pain. We ache with you. And we and our country will stand by you in these difficult times. Israel is a strong nation, and at this moment we say to Israel: You are not alone. The United States stands alongside you as an unrelenting partner,” Schumer said at a press conference in Israel.
But Congress’s ability to support Israel amid its battle against Hamas has come into question as the House remains without a Speaker. Without a permanent Speaker in place, the House is unable to conduct legislative business.
That fact has added to the increased focus on the Speaker’s race.
“We want to reopen the House and get to a place where we can tackle the challenges that are in front of us domestically as well as make sure that we can stand with our close friend, Israel, during her time of need in terms of ensuring Israel’s ability to decisively defeat Hamas, a brutal terrorist organization,” Jeffries told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
Jordan, for his part, is emphasizing the need for the House GOP conference to unite so Congress can support Israel.
“Chairman Jordan has made it clear that he wants to unite the conference in order to pass the bills that the American people expect by giving Israel the resources they need to destroy Hamas, securing the border, and reforming FISA. He is looking forward to working with the entire conference to do so when he’s Speaker,” Jordan spokesperson Russell Dye said in a statement Sunday night.
Al Weaver contributed.