WASHINGTON — Three weeks after Kevin McCarthy was ousted, House Republicans met behind closed doors Tuesday to nominate a new nominee for speaker — their third attempt to fill the job.
A GOP civil war prevented Republicans from agreeing on a successor to McCarthy, R-Calif. The GOP’s previous two picks failed to get the votes needed to win the floor, leaving the House in unprecedented chaos, a government shutdown and wars in Ukraine and the Middle East within a month.
“The world is burning around us, and American leadership is essential. If the House of Representatives doesn’t act, you can’t have the full share of American leadership,” Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., said on NBC’s “Meet the Press NOW,” urging his colleagues to move. A new Unite around the leader.
“The world is watching; Our enemies are paying attention. It does not reflect well on the democratic institutions we have all pledged to protect,” he added. “So again, let’s hope and pray it’s this week.”
By voting by secret ballot, Republicans will narrow the remaining seven candidates for speaker to just one. In each round on Tuesday, the person with the fewest votes is eliminated until a candidate receives a simple majority of those in the room. But even then, there is no guarantee that the party’s nominee will be able to secure the Speaker’s victory in a plebiscite, which could happen as soon as Tuesday.
With Republicans’ razor-thin majority and Democrats coalescing behind Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the next GOP nominee will need the support of 217 of the 221 GOP lawmakers.
The party’s two previous nominees — Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio — fell short of that magic number and were forced to drop out. Jordan’s decision to leave the race after three failed floor votes and an internal vote of no confidence by colleagues gave Friday a free-for-all to fill the void.
Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the GOP’s no. With 3 leaders and the chief vote counter favorite to win the nomination, nine candidates threw their hats in the ring by the weekend deadline. Another is a little-known representative from Michigan. Dan Meuser, a former business executive, left Monday night shortly after giving his pitch to colleagues at a candidate forum. Alabama’s GOP Policy Committee Chairman Gary Palmer followed suit before the polls opened on Tuesday, ending his effort as well.
It is not clear that the next candidate will get 217 votes. Some lawmakers, including Reps. Ralph Norman, R-Texas, and Chip Roy, R-Texas, told reporters Monday when colleagues met that they would not sign a “solidarity” pledge supporting a speaker-appointed speaker. was
“I’m not going to do it,” said Norman, a member of the Freedom Committee.
Another obstacle is that the vote to sink Jordan empowered some normally peaceful factions, including swing-district Republicans. Among them is Rep. Mark Molinaro, RN.Y. are included.
“I want a speaker who recognizes the individual interests of my constituents and the constituents I represent,” Molinaro said.
The seven candidates still running are: Emmer; Mike Johnson, vice chairman of Louisiana’s GOP convention; Republican caucus chairman Kevin Hearn of Oklahoma, who previously owned McDonald’s franchises and sent burgers to colleagues on Monday; former Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas; Jack Bergman of Michigan, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general; Byron Donalds of Florida, a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus; and Austin Scott of Georgia, who last week challenged Jordan for speaker.
“We have nine that have been announced. We may have nine or 90 more, and that’s looking in the mirror and looking at the next speaker of the House,” Womack said Monday evening before Mueser and Palmer retreated. “So I’m telling you, we have to unite around one.”
Several of the remaining seven, including Emmer, Johnson and Hearn, spoke by phone with former President Donald Trump, who said he would remain neutral in Tuesday’s race. Trump supported Jordan, and he acknowledged the difficulty of getting 217 votes in the House.
“That floor door is so tough. I said there’s only one person who can do this. You know who that is? Jesus Christ,” Trump said Monday during a visit to New Hampshire. “If he comes down and says, ‘I want to be speaker,’ he’ll do it, and other than that, I don’t see anybody who can guarantee that.”
Notably, at a recent GOP meeting, one lawmaker stood up and said that even Jesus could not be elected speaker in this majority, Rep. According to Mark Alford.
At a private candidate forum Monday night, speaker candidates fielded questions from their colleagues about their vision for the convention and their policy positions, including how to handle the shutdown and aid to Ukraine.