House Republicans have faced a chaotic few weeks after Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was ousted from his post earlier this month, but an uncertain future remains as the party looks to select the next speaker.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, has emerged as the Republican nominee to take McCarthy’s place, but the road to get to that point was filled with plot twists, including the surprise withdrawal of House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., from consideration and the surprise bid of Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., for speaker. To complicate matters further, Jordan faces significant opposition from dozens of fellow GOP lawmakers in his quest for the speakership.
The GOP drama started Oct. 2, when Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., officially followed through on threats to file a formal motion to eject the speaker. Two days later, McCarthy was removed from his role after a 216-210 vote, sending the Republican majority scrambling for a new leader for the House.
Both Scalise and Jordan emerged as early frontrunners for the post, though Scalise was able to garner support of the majority of the Republican conference during a secret 113-99 vote last week. But just one day later Scalise made the stunning decision to drop out of the speaker race, lacking a path toward victory on the House floor.
“There are still some people that have their own agendas. And I was very clear we have to have everybody put their agendas on the side and focus on what this country needs. This country is counting on us to come back together,” Scalise said at a press conference following the decision.
The Scalise decision opened the door for Jordan, who early on Friday looked sure to be the next Republican choice for a nominee. But his bid also became questionable Friday with the surprise entry of Scott into the race, though Jordan ultimately bested the Georgia lawmaker in a 124-81 vote. A second vote taken to gauge Jordan’s ability to win the speakership on the House floor revealed 55 Republicans still opposed to him, despite Scott urging fellow lawmakers to throw their support behind the Ohio Republican.
“I highly respect Jim Jordan,” Scott said on social media after losing the vote. “He is an asset to the Republican Party and our nominee for Speaker.”
“Our conference has spoken, and now we must unite behind Jordan so we can get Congress back to work,” the Georgia Republican added.
The two frontrunners for the Republican nomination for president, former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, have both thrown their weight behind Jordan’s bid for speaker, with DeSantis saying he would vote for the Ohio Republican if he were a member of the House.
“Jim Jordan… I don’t know if he has the votes. I would vote for him if I were there. He’s a good man. He’s a good conservative,” DeSantis said while campaigning in Iowa this weekend, according to a report from Radio Iowa. “But here’s the thing: what they’re showing the country is that they’re like chickens with their heads cut off. They can’t shoot straight. There’s a lot of drama and palace intrigue.”
Trump, meanwhile, said during a Friday interview with Real America’s Voice that he hopes the Ohio lawmaker “does well” in the race.
“I think he does well. I hope he does well,” Trump said. “He’s got competition, as you understand. And they’re friendly with me, too. Very nice people and good people. We’ll see what happens.”
Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and current GOP presidential hopeful, argued that House Republicans needed to unite no matter who is nominated to serve as speaker.
“They need to get it together,” Haley said during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper Sunday. “They need to get in a room and figure out who this is going to be and come out unified.”
Haley said Democrats have caused chaos both at home and overseas, noting inflation, a crisis at the U.S. border with Mexico, and the outbreak of wars around the world. However, the GOP hopeful argued that Republicans won’t be able to fix those issues until they come together as a conference.
“You can’t fix Democrat chaos with Republican chaos,” Haley said. “This is not a good look.”
The House recessed for the weekend after the Friday vote, giving Jordan time to win the support of the 55 GOP holdouts. But the Ohio lawmaker faces an uphill climb to garner enough support on the House floor, only being able to afford four Republican defections if no Democrats back his bid for speaker.
Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., told reporters Friday that he does not believe Jordan will garner enough support for speaker, and he noted that a failed bid could lead to strong candidates throwing their hat in the ring.
“Jordan won’t get the votes. I don’t know if anybody can get the votes. Then they’re going to have four or five other members of Congress that are really, I think pretty strong members, will get in the race,” Buchanan said.
One such option is Republican Study Committee Chair Kevin Hern, R-Okla., who expressed interest in the job before throwing his support behind Jordan’s bid. Another option is Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., the third-ranking House Republican who initially backed Scalise.
Republicans could also take the unorthodox approach of looking outside the House for a candidate, since the speaker does not constitutionally have to be a House member. One such option is Trump, who has offered to temporarily step in if Republicans cannot unite behind a candidate. That prospect is very unlikely, though.
Another possible scenario is moderate members of both parties cutting a deal on a speaker choice.
In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, House Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., hinted that some sort of bipartisan solution could be in the works.
“There are informal conversations that have been underway. When we get back to Washington tomorrow, it’s important to begin to formalize those discussions,” Jeffries said.
But such a move is likely to face fierce resistance from House Republicans, with Democrats already holding control of both the Senate and the White House.
“Some Republicans want to cut a deal with Democrat leader Hakeem Jeffries to elect a Speaker,” Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., said Sunday in a post on X. “With Democrats controlling the White House and the Senate, we must not give up control of the House. Republicans should unite behind Jim Jordan as our Speaker of the House!”
“No Republican is going to vote for a Democrat,” Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., said last week during an interview with FOX Business “That would be political suicide, even for the most moderate of members.”
There’s also the possibility that McCarthy regains the gavel, with some lawmakers loyal to the California lawmaker indicating that he is the only candidate they would support.
“We know who our real leader is…. I’m more solidly behind McCarthy now than ever,” Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., told reporters last week. “We need Kevin McCarthy back.”
As the current nominee, Jordan has aimed to schedule a vote on his fate on the House floor on Tuesday, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to Fox News Digital. While that bid still faces significant opposition, a spokesperson for the Ohio lawmaker told Fox News Digital that Jordan “has made it clear that he wants to unite the conference in order to pass the bills that the American people expect.”
“He is looking forward to working with the entire conference, to do so when he’s speaker,” Jordan’s press secretary, Russell Dye, said.