Republicans have left the House of Representatives deadlocked, with no end — and no speaker — in sight. Hardliner Jim Jordan failed for a third time on Friday to win election as House speaker. His support dwindled, and on the third ballot he only secured 194 votes, 21 short of the 215 he needed. This was despite the fact that former speaker Kevin McCarthy — who was ousted from the post 18 days ago — nominated Jordan on the floor. Not even McCarthy’s endorsement was enough to overcome the resistance of moderate Republicans, who refuse to bow to one of the most radical members of their party, who has former president Donald Trump’s blessing. Then, a few hours later in an internal vote, the Republican conference decided to scrap Jordan’s candidacy. Back to square one.
Jordan’s new failure leaves the House inoperative on the same day that President Joe Biden requested the approval of a $105 billion aid package destined mainly for Ukraine, but also for Israel, humanitarian assistance in the Gaza Strip and to reinforce the control of the border with Mexico. To move forward, the package needs the approval of both the Democratic-majority Senate and the Republican-dominated House, which is currently at an impasse. The Republican conference will meet Monday afternoon to try to reach a consensus on a new candidate.
During his speech on the floor, McCarthy introduced Jordan as “an effective legislator,” which earned him laughter and ridicule from the Democratic caucus, since the Ohio representative has not proposed a single bill in his years as a congressman. In response to this, the former House speaker argued that Jordan’s job as chairman of the Judiciary Committee is more important than having drafted legislation himself.
Democrats also laughed and protested when McCarthy described Jordan as someone who seeks consensus and compromise. Jordan was singled out by the congressional committee that investigated the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol for his role in trying to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. He helped found the Freedom Caucus, which represents the hard-right faction of the Republican Party. And he has been a staunch supporter of Trump and a relentless, almost inquisitorial, persecutor of Biden.
“Being speaker is not an easy job, especially in this conference,” McCarthy acknowledged. “But I’ve seen Jim spend his entire career fighting for freedom. No matter what, no matter the odds — and I know he’s ready for the job,” he added. Opposing him, Democratic Rep. Katherine Clark called him “a threat to democracy.”
Several of the Republican representatives who voted against Jordan have publicly denounced receiving pressures and threats. “One thing I cannot stomach, or support, is a bully,” Iowa Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks said in a statement. She claims to have received “credible death threats and a barrage of threatening calls” for having voted against Jordan.
“As soon as you try to influence by getting outside groups to try to intimidate, in that nanosecond, it’s over,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a senior Republican on the Appropriations Committee who has opposed Jordan from the get go.
During the third ballot, Jordan got even less support than he received in the first two, but he’s not ready to give up. “Look, there have already been several rounds of voting for the speaker. We all know that. I just know we need a speaker as soon as possible so we can work for the American people,” he said hours before the vote.
In the first vote, 20 Republicans turned their backs on Jordan, and in the second, 22 refused to vote for him. By the third round, 25 members of his own party refused to back him, despite his efforts to get their support. It remains unclear when there will be a new vote, but the Republicans will have to have a new nominee by then.
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