After two rudderless weeks, the House might finally get a new speaker today. Emphasis on might.
House Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — who is the House GOP’s third speaker nominee this year — is poised to push for a speaker vote on the House floor today to see if he has enough support to seize the gavel.
Although the GOP has held several leadership votes internally over the last two weeks, this will be the first speaker vote held by the full House since Kevin McCarthy’s 15-round slog in January. Just like those votes at the beginning of the year, all 434 current House members will participate today, casting votes in alphabetical order. To win the speakership, Jordan will need a simple majority — 217 votes, assuming all sitting members participate.
Since Hakeem Jeffries is poised to receive all 212 Democratic votes, Jordan needs the support of all but four of the 221 Republicans to win the day. If five GOP members defect, the House will remain speakerless, pitting Jordan up against the same fragile balance McCarthy and Steve Scalise faced before him.
Will Jordan be able to stitch together a majority?
For most of the day on Monday, it seemed like he could, as an unexpected rush of Republicans who had once been skeptical of him began announcing their support.
Last week, Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) said that she was a “HELL NO” on Jordan as speaker. House Armed Services Committee chairman Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) said that there was nothing Jordan could do to win his support. Then, on Monday, they both endorsed Jordan. “Throughout my time in Congress, I have always been a team player and supported our Republican nominees out of Conference,” Wagner explained.
Several more Republican institutionalists followed, including Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.), and other former Jordan “no” votes.
It seemed as though — once again — GOP moderates were folding to the hard-line conservatives, their spines slowly disintegrating in the name of “party unity” and getting the House back to work. The intense pressure campaign launched by Jordan and outside allies like Sean Hannity seemed like it had worked.
But then the flips stopped coming, leaving Jordan just short of 217 votes.
It no longer appears that Jordan will face an active Republican challenger during today’s floor vote, as some of the holdouts had hoped. Without an opposing candidate to vote for, most of the Jordan defectors are planning to cast ballots for the ghosts of Republican leadership past.
Reps. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.) and Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) plan to vote for McCarthy. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) and Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) plan to vote for Scalise. Reps. Ken Buck (R-Co.), Don Bacon (R-Neb.), and a handful of others are also expected to oppose Jordan, which currently makes enough defectors to deny him the speakership.
“I’m not budging,” Bacon wrote on Twitter. “I’m a five-time commander and deployed to Middle-East four times. I’ll do what is best for country.”
After watching conservatives get their way again and again this Congress, these members are furious at the idea that the hard-right could tear down the House GOP’s top two duly elected leaders, only to be rewarded by getting the exact candidate (Jordan) they’d been pushing for all along. (Based on recent history, though, the possibility that these defectors still eventually bend should not be discounted.)
What would a Jordan speakership look like, if he does manage to get there?
He would come to the job with a much different career path than most of the speakers before him. Instead of climbing through the ranks of leadership like Nancy Pelosi or McCarthy, Jordan has spent most of his time in the House as a fierce leadership critic, a burn-it-all-down partisan brawler who helped advise the efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
He is known more as a “legislative terrorist” (as John Boehner famously labeled him) than a legislative workhorse. In fact, in 16 years in Congress, Jordan has never authored a bill that was later signed into law. He has almost no experience working across the aisle — a critical skill for a House speaker, especially in a period of divided government. In Georgetown University’s most recent Bipartisan Index, which tracks how often House members work across party lines on legislation, Jordan ranked 428th out of 435.
The Trump-endorsed founder of the House Freedom Caucus, Jordan is far to the right of his potential predecessor. While McCarthy decried government shutdowns, Jordan has cheered them on, including the 35-day shutdown in 2018 he helped incite. He has also consistently voted against Ukraine aid, which McCarthy has supported.
If he does get elected speaker, Jordan has told colleagues he plans to push for a stopgap government funding bill that would extend until April, in order to purposely trigger the across-the-board 1% spending cuts that were included in the Biden-McCarthy debt ceiling deal as a worst-case-scenario for both sides.
Four House Republicans told Axios that Jordan gave them the “impression” on Monday that he would allow a floor vote on a bill linking Ukraine funding with Israel aid — but there is no indication that any formal promise was made. Publicly, Jordan has not committed to a vote on Ukraine aid.
More news to know.
President Joe Biden is set to visit Israel on Wednesday. Per the Washington Post, the U.S. waited to announce the trip until receiving a commitment from Israel on allowing humanitarian aid to reach Gaza.
- Secretary of State Antony Blinken held more than nine hours of negotiations with Israeli officials before announcing the trip and the aid plan.
- Hamas released its first hostage video showing one of the 200+ Israelis being held captive by the group.
- About 2,000 U.S. troops have been told to be ready in case they are needed to deploy to the Middle East.
- During an Iowa campaign stop, Donald Trump vowed to ban Gaza refugees from the U.S. if elected to a second term.
- At least 15 journalists have been killed in the Israel-Hamas war: 11 Palestinian, 3 Israeli, and 1 Lebanese.
Judge Tanya Chutkan imposed a limited gag order on Trump, prohibiting him from making statements “publicly targeting” Special Counsel Jack Smith and his staff.
The Supreme Court again allowed Biden “ghost gun” regulations to stay in place.
Russian president Vladimir Putin is in China for a rare international trip.
The Biden administration reached a settlement with the ACLU over Trump-era migrant family separations.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett told an interviewer that it would be a “good idea” for the Supreme Court to adopt an ethics code.
One House Democrat is floating George W. Bush for speaker of the House.
Dennis Kucinich has stepped down as RFK Jr.’s campaign manager.
The Biden campaign is now on Truth Social.
The day ahead.
White House: President Biden has nothing on his public schedule until his departure for Israel tonight.
Senate: The upper chamber is set to vote on confirmation of two U.S. district judge nominees.
House: The lower chamber is set to gavel in at 12 p.m. ET, with a speaker vote expected later in the afternoon.
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