Jim Jordan gets fewer votes in second vote for speaker than first

user avatar Author: Editors Desk Source: BBC News:
October 18, 2023 at 13:20
It was not the day of triumph that Jim Jordan had hoped for.
GETTY IMAGES | Jim Jordan (centre) was unable to rally his party behind hi
GETTY IMAGES | Jim Jordan (centre) was unable to rally his party behind hi

At the start of Tuesday, the Republican nominee for Speaker of the US House of Representatives was projecting confidence. His supporters had suggested he might lose fewer than 10 of his colleagues in the first vote - and that would put him on a glide path to victory.

Instead, 20 of his fellow Republicans opted to support someone else - and now his leadership bid is in disarray.

The Trump-backed congressman had chosen to hold a public vote as part of a strategy to flush the opposition out. He hoped to expose them as just a handful of holdouts and put them on the record where they would wilt under the spotlight.

That strategy will be much more difficult now, as there is strength in numbers. It will be easier for Republicans opposed to Mr Jordan to resist what is sure to be the intense pressure that is coming their way, both from their fellow House Republicans and conservative voters.

So what happens next?

Jordan keeps fighting

The Ohio congressman could continue to press for more Speaker votes. He has Mr Trump and much of the right-wing media ecosystem on his side, and can make life very uncomfortable for Republican politicians who are viewed as insufficiently loyal to the conservative cause.

Unlike Mr McCarthy, who in January faced an ideologically cohesive group of right-wing conservatives with specific, although difficult to satisfy, demands, Mr Jordan confronts a somewhat disparate group of opponents.

There's a knot of legislators from narrowly won districts in New York who may be fearful that Mr Jordan's brand of confrontational politics will damage their re-election chances.

Another group includes key members of the House Appropriations Committee, including its chairwoman, Kay Granger. They might be worried about Mr Jordan's penchant for budget showdowns and resulting government shutdowns undermining their carefully negotiated and constructed government-funding legislation.

The rest are an ideological hodgepodge from across the country, whose opposition ranges from tepid to vehement.

Mr Jordan and his team will have to try to find ways to cajole or coerce his opponents into yielding while not doing so in a way that alienates his current crop of supporters.

House Republicans react as a vote for Speaker is conducted
GETTY IMAGES | It may be a long road ahead for Republicans

It will be no easy task.

Twenty votes is more than Kevin McCarthy, the recently ousted speaker, lost in his first ballot in January, during a process that stretched over several days and through 15 rounds of votes. It seems unlikely that Mr Jordan's fellow Republicans will give him that much time to secure the Speaker's gavel, given the current national and global circumstances.

Mr Jordan can only afford to lose four Republican votes.

Republicans go back to drawing board

At some point, if Mr Jordan cannot demonstrate he is making progress towards winning the Speaker vote, Republicans are going to have to start looking for other options.

Some have already floated giving Mr McCarthy, who was only narrowly unseated two weeks ago, another chance at the gavel. Since his ouster, no Republican candidate has matched his level of support among House Republicans.

Another option being floated is to expand the powers of acting Speaker Patrick McHenry, allowing him to preside over urgent legislative matters, like approving aid to Israel after the Hamas attack.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries speaks to reporters on the East Steps of the U.S. Capitol on October 17, 2023
GETTY IMAGES | Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries has said he is open to forming a coalition with Republican moderates

A majority of the House would have to approve this step, but some Democrats could go along if the scope of Mr McHenry's powers are clearly defined.

Some centrist Republicans have also broached the possibility of working with Democrats to form a coalition that can elect a centrist compromise Speaker. Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries has been open to such an effort, although he says that such a move will have to allow Democrats to advance some of their own legislative priorities.

Otherwise, Republicans are left hoping that a new candidate can emerge who will pull their party together and willingly accept what Republican congressman Ken Buck of Colorado described today as the "worst job in America".


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