4 min read

Speaker’s race grows menacing

Jim Jordan is set to try again for his third speaker vote in four days. The result is not expected to change.
Speaker’s race grows menacing
Jim Jordan during a press conference this morning. (Thomas Massie / Twitter)

Good morning! It’s Friday, October 20, 2023. The 2024 elections are 382 days away. If this newsletter was forwarded to you, subscribe here. If you want to contribute to support my work, donate here.

Exactly one week ago, I wrote that the House Republican Conference is in shambles.

Things only get worse by the day.

GOP lawmakers are blocking each other on social media (“This is exactly what’s wrong with this place — too many men here with no balls,” Rep. Nancy Mace said in response). They’re getting into shouting matches during endless rounds of conference meetings (“I think the whole country would scream at Matt Gaetz right now,” Kevin McCarthy said in his own defense.)

And, of course, they’re entering their 17th day without a speaker.

In the past week, during the time Jim Jordan has been the GOP pick for the role, the tone of the speaker’s race has grown more menacing as well.

Republicans who voted against Jordan are reporting threatening calls to their offices and texts to their wives. Per CNN, one of the anti-Jordan Republicans has had to have a local sheriff stationed at their daughter’s school because of threats. This is a race for speaker of the House — once one of the most businesslike elections in Washington — in an “age of extremism,” Bloomberg writes.

The threats are only hardening Jordan’s opposition. “One thing I cannot stomach or support is a bully,” Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks said in a statement.

Nevertheless, Jordan says he will not give up.

The House will gavel in at 10 a.m. ET this morning to hold its third speaker vote in the past four days.

On the first go-around, 20 Republicans voted against Jordan. On the second, that number grew to 22. On the third ballot today, even more GOP lawmakers are expected to come out against their Trump-endorsed nominee.

But Jordan said in a press conference this morning that he has no plans to withdraw, and that he will push for the House to stay in over the weekend to keep holding more votes. “We need to get a speaker as soon as possible so we can get to work for the American people,” Jordan said.

In the meantime, who is calling the shots for the House GOP?

No one knows. Just as the Catholic Church has had two popes for the last decade, the Washington Post notes, House Republicans now essentially have three speakers: Jordan, McCarthy, and Patrick McHenry, who is serving as speaker pro tempore until the chamber picks a permanent replacement.

Briefly on Thursday, it appeared that the House might be moving towards a temporary solution: voting to give McHenry the power to put legislation on the floor. Jordan endorsed the idea — before walking it back just hours later, after it was clear the proposal did not have sufficient GOP support.

McHenry has refused to consider legislation absent a House vote explicitly empowering him to do so — he reportedly threatened to resign on Thursday if any GOP lawmaker sought to force his hand — leaving Congress without any clear avenue to process bills or resolutions for the time being.

The consequences of that inability will be felt later today, as President Biden unveils his proposed aid package for a set of ongoing international crises.

According to ABC News, the package is set to include $60 billion for Ukraine, $14 billion for Israel, $14 billion for boosting U.S.-Mexico border security, $10 billion for unspecified humanitarian efforts, and $7 billion for the Indo-Pacific region, including Taiwan.

Biden urged lawmakers to approve the assistance in an impassioned Oval Office address last night. “American leadership is what holds the world together,” he said. “American values are what make us a partner that other nations want to work with. To put all that at risk if we walk away from Ukraine, if we turn our backs on Israel, it’s just not worth it.”

But without a speaker, the aid request will linger in the Capitol unapproved — like every other piece of legislation before Congress.

More news to know.

How Biden Is Betting on the Politics of War / Politico

Sidney Powell pleads guilty over efforts to overturn Trump’s loss in Georgia and agrees to cooperate / AP

Jack Smith slams Trump’s bid to dismiss Jan. 6 charges: ‘The defendant is not above the law’ / The Messenger

Sen. Laphonza Butler not running in 2024 after filling Dianne Feinstein’s seat / ABC News

Travis King, soldier who crossed into North Korea, charged with desertion / Axios

The day ahead.

White House: President Biden will hold his second U.S.-EU Summit since taking office, hosting European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the White House. Later tonight, he will participate in a campaign fundraiser before heading to Delaware for the weekend.

Congress: The Senate is out for the weekend. The House will return at 10 a.m. ET and continue voting for speaker.

Courts: Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York continues. According to the Daily Beast, the judge overseeing the trial is set to upbraid Trump for not immediately taking down a social media post attacking a court employee, in violation of the judge’s order.

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— Gabe