Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the Republican nominee for speaker of the House, and House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., are seen on the House floor of the U.S. Capitol after he did not receive enough votes to become speaker on Tuesday, October 17, 2023.
Tom Williams | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
Rep. Jim Jordan’s bid to become speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives failed Wednesday for the second time in as many days, a devastating blow to the Ohio Republican’s viability as a candidate to lead the chamber.
Jordan’s failure to secure the gavel after two rounds of voting casts further doubt on whether House Republicans have any viable path to elect a new speaker, short of finding a consensus candidate who could also win over Democrats.
Jordan suffered a stinging rebuke from his own party in the first round of voting Tuesday afternoon, with 20 Republicans casting their ballots against him.
In the second ballot Wednesday, that number climbed to 22.
Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, who formally nominated Jordan for the second ballot, blamed the current chaos on the Republican faction that ousted former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
“Those who did this, whether intentionally or unintentionally, were going to put the Congress in a state of chaos and the country into a state of uncertainty,” Cole said in his nomination speech before the House.
“The last two weeks have vindicated that observation,” the Oklahoman said.
Jordan’s failure on the second ballot could push Republicans to empower Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, who has filled in as interim speaker since McCarthy was removed.
Rep. Dave Joyce of Ohio plans to introduce a resolution to elect McHenry as speaker pro tempore after Jordan faces his second ballot, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to NBC News.
“After two weeks without a Speaker of the House and no clear candidate with 217 votes in the Republican conference, it is time to look at other viable options,” Joyce told NBC News. “By empowering Patrick McHenry as Speaker Pro Tempore we can take care of our ally Israel until a new Speaker is elected.”
Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania has already introduced a resolution to expand McHenry’s currently limited powers until the GOP can settle on a permanent speaker.
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York has indicated that Democrats are open to throwing their support behind McHenry to end the current impasse.
The House has faced a leadership vacuum for more than two weeks now, after eight hard-right Republicans led by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida orchestrated the ouster of McCarthy in a historically unprecedented no-confidence vote.
House GOP lawmakers have repeatedly failed to coalesce around a candidate to succeed McCarthy. Scalise was the party’s original nominee, but the majority leader from Louisiana was forced to pull the plug last week after it became clear he did not have enough Republican support.
The chaos in the House is now set against the backdrop of spiraling violence in the Middle East, after Hamas massacred hundreds of civilians in Israel and retaliatory strikes by the Netanyahu government have caused immense human suffering in Gaza.
A strike against a hospital in Gaza on Tuesday has killed hundreds of civilians, with the Palestinians and the broader Arab world holding Israel responsible while the Netanyahu government claims an errant rocket fired by Islamist militants hit the medical facility.
The hospital strike threatens to escalate the already devastating war into a broader regional conflict.
Congress is in a state of paralysis, unable to respond to the crisis in the Middle East until the House elects a speaker. President Joe Biden, who traveled to Israel on Wednesday, has urged Congress to pass emergency security assistance to support Israel.
This is a developing story, please check back for updates.