GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio failed in his second attempt to become speaker of the House, again falling short of the 217 votes needed to be elected and casting doubt about the way forward in the still-leaderless lower chamber.
Jordan won just 199 votes in the House on Wednesday morning, with 22 Republicans withholding their support and voting for a variety of protest candidates. All 212 Democrats voted for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the party’s leader in the House.
Jordan’s total was one fewer than the 200 he secured on the first ballot on Tuesday, a sign that he has struggled to make any inroads among the GOP holdouts. Four Republicans who voted for him on Tuesday defected in the latest vote, while he picked up support from two others. One member who was absent for the first ballot also supported Jordan in this round.
Republican Lawmakers rejected Rep. Jim Jordan for House speaker on a first ballot Tuesday, October 17th, as an unexpectedly numerous 20 holdouts denied the hard-charging ally of Donald Trump the GOP majority needed to seize the gavel.
Additional voting was postponed as the House hit a standstill, stuck while Jordan works to shore up support from Republican colleagues to replace the ousted Kevin McCarthy for the job. Reluctant Republicans are refusing to give Jordan their votes, viewing the Ohio congressman as too extreme for the powerful position of House speaker, second in line to the presidency. Next votes were expected Wednesday.
“We’re going to keep working,” Jordan said at the Capitol as evening fell. It’s been two weeks of angry Republican infighting since McCarthy’s sudden removal by hard-liners, who are now within reach of a central seat of U.S. power. The vote for House speaker, once a formality in Congress, has devolved into another bitter showdown for the gavel.
Jordan (R-Ohio) secured 200 of the necessary 217 votes, while Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) got the full backing of Democratic members, with 212 votes. Jordan had gained some major momentum, picking up endorsements from key players who had initially said they would not vote for him. But during Tuesday’s midday vote, 20 Republicans cast votes for other members.
Jordan’s loss of 20 GOP votes – one more than former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in his first of 15 votes to secure the gavel – has left the GOP even more uncertain when it can reach consensus over who should lead the party. A second planned vote was abruptly postponed from Tuesday evening to Wednesday.
Many in the party are rallying behind efforts that would give McHenry more power to act as a temporary Speaker, expanding a role otherwise appears to be largely dedicated to organizing the process of electing a new speaker.
Rep. Carlos Giménez (R-Fla.) – who has pledged to continue to vote for McCarthy for speaker – told reporters Tuesday that moves to further empower McHenry have gained momentum – “as they should.”
The political climb has been steep for Jordan, the combative Judiciary Committee chairman and a founding member of the right-flank Freedom Caucus. He is known more as a chaos agent than a skilled legislator, raising questions about how he would lead. Congress faces daunting challenges, risking a federal shutdown at home if it fails to fund the government and fielding Biden’s requests for aid to help Ukraine and Israel in the wars abroad.
With the House Republican majority narrowly held at 221-212, Jordan can afford to lose only a few votes to reach the 217 majority threshold, if there are no further absences.
Jordan conferred immediately afterward with McCarthy, who fared nearly as badly in January, having lost almost as many votes on the first of what would become a historic 15 ballots for the gavel.