Republican infighting over speakership has left the chamber effectively shut down for more than two weeks
The US House of Representatives was prepared on Thursday to vote for a third time on congressman Jim Jordan’s flailing bid to become speaker, after the hard-right Ohio Republican failed to convince enough of his colleagues to deliver him the gavel.
Uncertainty reigned on Wednesday, when the House adjourned once again without electing a speaker. Jordan, the Donald Trump loyalist who led the congressional effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election and now chairs the House judiciary committee, vowed to stay in the race even as his path forward had all but disappeared.
“We’ll keep talking to members, keep working on it,” Jordan told reporters after the vote.
Republican infighting has kept the speaker’s chair vacant since the historic ouster of the Republican Kevin McCarthy earlier this month.
The weeks-long stalemate has plunged the Republican party into chaos and left the House effectively shut down for more than two weeks. With the majority party deadlocked, a bipartisan group of lawmakers has begun actively exploring an extraordinary plan to temporarily expand the powers of the acting speaker, the Republican Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, which would allow the chamber to take up urgent legislation.
“It’s time to empower the speaker pro tempore,” the congresswoman Lori Chavez-DeRemer, an Oregon Republican who opposes Jordan, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “The Republican Conference is still deeply divided. While we continue working on finding a consensus candidate for speaker that will prevent this dysfunction from continuing, we must resume the business of governing.”
With mainstream Republicans in revolt, Jordan made an unexpected plea for party unity on Wednesday. But after years of antagonizing the party’s leaders, Jordan, a founding member of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, found himself unable to persuade his colleagues that he was the man to unite their fractious majority and lead the chamber.
Twenty-two Republicans and all Democrats opposed Jordan on Wednesday, leaving him far short of the 217 votes needed to ascend to the speakership. Four Republicans who had supported him on the first ballot flipped against him on Wednesday. Only two Republicans who initially voted against Jordan, Doug LaMalfa of California and Victoria Spartz of Indiana, dropped their opposition.
Congress faces a range of thorny challenges that, if unmet, have consequences for both the US and its allies. Congress has less than a month to reach a funding deal or risk a federal shutdown, while Biden is expected to send requests for aid to help Ukraine and Israel.