Jim Jordan’s bid to be U.S. House speaker ends after rejection by GOP in closed meeting
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, right, Republican speaker nominee, talks to his Chief of Staff Kevin Eichinger and Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., after the House of Representatives failed to elevate Jordan to speaker of the House for the third time in the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 20, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — Ohio Republican Jim Jordan is no longer the Republican nominee for speaker of the U.S. House.
Shortly after a failed floor vote Friday on Jordan’s bid, Republicans held a closed-door meeting where Jordan failed to garner enough votes from his fellow GOP lawmakers to stay in the race as their nominee.
“I told the (Republican) conference it was an honor to be their speaker designee,” Jordan said to reporters.
The floor vote was Jordan’s third attempt this week to win sufficient support from Republicans, who hold a slim majority in the House.
“We’ll have to go back to the drawing board,” former Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters.
Louisiana’s Steve Scalise said that Republicans will pick a new nominee and come back to their quandary on Monday.
North Carolina’s Patrick McHenry, who has been serving as speaker pro tempore, told reporters that the plan is to have a floor vote for speaker on Tuesday.
A candidate forum for a new speaker designee will be held Monday night at 6:30 p.m. Eastern. Republican Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma told reporters shortly after Jordan’s rejection that he would run.
“I just voted for my good friend Jim Jordan to stay as our Speaker Designate, but the conference has determined that he will no longer hold that title. We just had two speaker designates go down. We must unify and do it fast. I’ve spoken to every member of the conference over the last few weeks. We need a different type of leader who has a proven track record of success, which is why I’m running for Speaker of the House,” Hern wrote on X Friday afternoon.
Several reports on X from news media indicated that Reps. Austin Scott of Georgia and Jack Bergman of Michigan will also run.
‘Swamp at work’
Florida’s Matt Gaetz, who introduced the measure to oust McCarthy more than two weeks ago and now supports Jordan, called the internal vote result “outrageous.”
“I think that was the swamp at work,” Gaetz told States Newsroom while entering a U.S. House basement elevator after the meeting. “The most popular Republican in the country was just knifed in a secret anonymous ballot in the bowels of the Capitol.”
Jordan lost more Republican votes on his third ballot Friday than on the previous two, in a 194-210 vote, bringing the totals to 25 GOP defectors. All Democrats present also opposed his candidacy, backing Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries. The successful candidate needed a majority of the 429 members voting on Friday.
Friday marked the 17th day the U.S. House has been without a speaker and unable to conduct business.
GOP Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Tom Kean of New Jersey and Marcus Molinaro of New York voted against Jordan Friday, adding three to the Ohio Republican’s earlier deficit.
The third vote came as the White House sent a nearly $106 billion supplemental aid package to Congress early Friday for funding for Israel, Ukraine and U.S. border security, and as lawmakers have less than 30 days until government funding expires.
Jordan, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has earned a reputation as a conservative firebrand and co-founded the far-right House Freedom Caucus. Several members who voted against him have received death threats from supporters of the Ohio congressman.
Jordan was one of more than 100 Republicans who objected to the 2020 election results following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Hours before the third vote, Jordan held a press conference where he indicated that he was willing to insist on multiple ballots to be elected speaker.
“There’s been multiple rounds of votes for speaker before,” he said, referring to McCarthy, who went 15 rounds before he was elected in January.
Those votes could also spill into days ahead, Jordan said, when “our plan this weekend is to get a speaker elected.”
But the conference decided differently after the failed floor vote.
Among the Republicans who voted against Jordan Friday were Don Bacon of Nebraska, Vern Buchanan of Florida, Ken Buck of Colorado, Lori Chavez-DeRemer of Oregon, Anthony D’Esposito of New York, Mario Díaz-Balart of Florida, Jake Ellzey of Texas, Drew Ferguson of Georgia, Fitzpatrick, Andrew Garbarino of New York, Carlos Giménez of Florida, Tony Gonzales of Texas, Kay Granger of Texas, John James of Michigan, Kean, Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, Jennifer Kiggans of Virginia, Nick LaLota of New York, Mike Lawler of New York, Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa, Molinaro, John Rutherford of Florida, Simpson, Pete Stauber of Minnesota and Steve Womack of Arkansas.
Jordan lost two votes due to absences: Reps. Derrick Van Orden of Wisconsin, who arrived in Israel Friday morning on a fact-finding trip, and Wesley Hunt of Texas.
On the Democratic side, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas and Donald Payne of New Jersey were absent.
Speaker pro tem
House Republicans also punted a resolution Thursday that would have temporarily empowered McHenry as elected speaker pro tempore in order to pass critical legislation such as funding for the government, an annual defense bill and supplemental aid to Ukraine and Israel.
There is much debate about how much authority McHenry has in the role of designated speaker pro tem that was established after 9/11 to ensure continuity of government in the event of a catastrophic attack.
Following the third ballot, McHenry said flipping those votes is “a serious challenge that we’re going to have to work through.”
“That’s why we’re gonna have a conference meeting,” he said.
McCarthy, who was ousted in early October, delivered the nominating speech for Jordan on the floor Friday.
“He is straightforward, honest and reliable. That is who Jim Jordan is,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy defended Jordan in the wake of criticism of Jordan’s dearth of legislation passed on the House floor.
“If we measure lawmakers by how many bills have their name on it, we are using the wrong measuring stick,” McCarthy said. “Some of (the) members I know with the most bills to their name are the most selfish. Jim Jordan on the other hand is one of the most selfless members I’ve known.”
Rep. Katherine Clark, who nominated Jeffries, of New York, called Jordan “a true threat to our democracy and our Constitution.”
“We need a speaker who will govern through consensus, not conflict. We need a speaker worthy of wielding that gavel, a leader who will defend democracy, not degrade it” said Clark, of Massachusetts. “More than ever we need proven, patriotic, people-first leadership, and that is why I am proud to nominate Hakeem Jeffries as speaker of the House.”
‘Clear and present danger’
Before the third ballot, Jeffries held a press conference where he warned of the dangers of electing Jordan as speaker of the House.
“Jim Jordan is a clear and present danger to our democracy,” Jeffries said, adding that Jordan has amplified falsehoods about the 2020 presidential election.
He said that Democrats “have repeatedly made clear we want to find a bipartisan path forward at every step of the way.”
But he stopped short of naming a Republican candidate that Democrats would support.
One of the Jordan GOP holdouts, Díaz-Balart, said he thinks it’s time for the Republican conference to find a new candidate for speaker.
“It’s pretty clear that he doesn’t have the votes,” Díaz-Balart said of Jordan.
Thomas Massie of Kentucky, who has backed Jordan, said he expects the conference to discuss if a vote should be held whether Republicans still support Jordan as their nominee.
“It’s the will of the (Republican) conference,” Massie said.
No speaker for weeks
Eight Republicans and all Democrats voted to oust California Republican McCarthy on Oct. 3, halting the lower chamber for the last 17 days.
The GOP conference has struggled to unify after numerous closed-door meetings and internal ballots.
Scalise initially garnered the nomination for the gavel but bowed out of the race a day later, even before calling a floor vote. The Louisiana Republican was not able to gain support from hard-right members and therefore would not have been able to reach the number of votes needed to win.
Jacob Fischler contributed to this report.
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