Republican Jim Jordan failed again Wednesday in a crucial runoff to become House speaker, with Donald Trump’s staunch ally losing even more Republican colleagues who refused to give him the gavel.
The next steps were highly uncertain as a bipartisan group of lawmakers launched an extraordinary plan: giving the acting speaker, Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., more power to reopen the House and temporarily conduct business as usual.
What was clear was that Jordan’s path to becoming Speaker of the House was almost certainly lost. He faced opposition from two more Republican detractors than the 20 he lost in the first round the day before.
The House relented to angry and frustrated Republican lawmakers who were considering other options. And while the roll call was underway, a few new critics emerged against Jordan, which did not appear to be garnering any new votes, except for one lawmaker who was absent the day before.
Before the morning vote, Jordan made an unexpected call for party unity, with the combative Judiciary Committee chairman telling his colleagues on social media: “We need to stop attacking each other and come together “.
A surprisingly large and politically diverse group of 20 Republicans had rejected Jordan’s nomination the day before, many of them unhappy with hard-line tactics aimed at forcing support and viewing the Ohio congressman as too extreme for the powerful post. Speaker of the House, second in line to the presidency. .
The House is at a standstill, gridlocked as Jordan worked to shore up support among fellow Republicans for the position to replace ousted Kevin McCarthy. Republicans are exhausted by the infighting that has occurred since McCarthy’s sudden departure by hard-liners, who are now within reach of a central seat of American power.
The vote for House speaker, once a formality in Congress, has turned into a bitter new showdown for the gavel.
With Republicans in majority control 221-212, Jordan must bring together most of his Republican foes to win. Tuesday’s tally, with 200 Republicans voting for Jordan and 212 for Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, left no candidate with a clear majority, with all 20 Republicans voting for another. .
In nominating Jordan, veteran Republican Tom Cole of Oklahoma said it was time to end the upheaval he had warned of with McCarthy’s sudden ouster.
“We have an opportunity today to end this chaos, this uncertainty,” Cole said.
He said Jordan was “not a shrinking violet” but someone who could lead the House.
Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar noted that Jeffries continues to win more votes and is the best choice to move the country forward.
“The country cannot afford more delays and more chaos,” Aguilar said.
Bipartisan groups of lawmakers have proposed ways to make the House work by giving more power to McHenry or another temporary speaker. The House had never ousted its speaker before McCarthy.
The innovative concept of strengthening the role of the acting president was gaining popularity with two surprising high-profile Republicans: former GOP chairmen Newt Gingrich and John Boehner.
Gingrich said that while he likes Jordan, he has “no confidence” that the candidate can get much beyond the 200 votes he won in the first vote.
“We can’t sit back and suck our thumbs and hope the world will wait for House Republicans to get their act together,” Gingrich told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on his show.
Boehner reposted Gingrich’s view saying, “I agree” on social media.
Both men have deep experience on the subject. Both were forced into early retirement by threats of ouster from right-wing insurgents like those who toppled McCarthy.
“The Republicans are incapable of functioning right now,” Jeffries said. He said discussions would “accelerate” between Democrats and Republicans on alternative plans.
“Jim Jordan will be a great speaker,” Trump said Tuesday outside a Manhattan courthouse, where he faces charges of business fraud. “I think he’s going to get the votes soon, if not today, then in a day or two.”
Asserting their independence, the holdouts are a mix of pragmatists — from veteran lawmakers and committee chairs worried about governing, to new lawmakers from districts where their state’s voters prefer President Joe Biden to Trump.
Some Republicans resent the pressure from Jordan’s allies and say they are threatened by their main opponents if they do not support him for president. Others are simply unhappy with the slow process.
One holdout, Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, said Tuesday that Jordan’s role in planning the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and his refusal to admit that Biden, a Democrat, won the election 2020 remained a problem.
Jordan has been a key Trump ally, particularly during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by the former president’s supporters who were trying to overturn the 2020 election that he lost to Biden . A few days later, Trump awarded Jordan a Medal of Freedom.
The political rise has been steep for Jordan, the combative chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a founding member of the right-wing Freedom Caucus. He is known more as an agent of chaos than a competent lawmaker, raising questions about how he would run the country. Congress faces daunting challenges, risking a federal government shutdown if it fails to fund the government and meet Biden’s demands for aid to help Ukraine and Israel in overseas wars .
First elected in 2006, Jordan has few bills under his belt since his term in office. He also faces questions about his past. A few years ago, Jordan denied allegations from former wrestlers while he was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University, who accused him of knowing about allegations that they were groped in a manner inappropriate by an Ohio doctor. Jordan said he was never aware of any abuse.