Conservative Republican Representative Jim Jordan found himself in a challenging position as he prepared for a second speaker’s vote following an unexpected setback during the initial vote on Tuesday. Jim Jordan, hailing from Ohio, had to engage in behind-the-scenes maneuvering to win over more than 20 Republicans who had previously voted against his bid for Speaker of the House.
The first vote for the Speaker’s position occurred precisely two weeks after the House had removed Kevin McCarthy, adding even more intensity to the political drama in Washington, D.C. Supporters of Jim Jordan, including members of the Freedom Caucus, had initially anticipated broad-based backing for his candidacy. However, the extent of opposition from within the GOP ranks came as a disappointment. Notably, 20 Republicans, including influential figures such as House Appropriations Chairwoman Kay Granger of Texas, Representative Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Representative Ken Buck of Colorado, and a group of New York Republicans representing purple districts, voted against Jim Jordan.
This opposition to Jim Jordan’s bid for the speakership stemmed from different factions within the Republican Party. Centrist Republicans were concerned that having a conservative hardliner like Jim Jordan as the face of the House GOP might not be in the party’s best interest. Additionally, some members were still grappling with their discontent over the removal of Kevin McCarthy and their prior opposition to the nomination of Majority Leader Steve Scalise, who had initially triumphed over Jim Jordan within the GOP conference with a vote tally of 113 to 99.
Jim Jordan’s opposition also extended to the House Appropriations Committee, which had long been at odds with him due to his staunch opposition to various spending bills. This seven-member committee voted against Jim Jordan, and considering the tight margin of support required, he could only afford to lose a maximum of four GOP votes. This situation paralleled Kevin McCarthy’s removal at the hands of eight GOP rebels earlier on, and it appeared that a similarly sized group of House Republicans had the potential to thwart Jim Jordan’s ascension as well.
Following the first vote, the House decided to recess, and Jim Jordan conducted meetings in both the speaker’s office and the majority whip’s office as he diligently worked to secure additional support. The second vote for the speaker was subsequently rescheduled for the following day at 11 a.m. ET.
Jim Jordan expressed his optimism after the meetings, stating, “We’re making progress. I feel good about it. We’re going to keep going.
One of these discussions involved Jim Jordan meeting with Majority Leader Steve Scalise. Before the initial vote, Jim Jordan had requested Steve Scalise to deliver a nominating speech on the House floor, but Steve Scalise had not committed to doing so. However, a spokeswoman for Scalise emphasized that he had been supportive of Jim Jordan throughout the process.
While some of the Republican holdouts expressed a willingness to switch their votes and support Jim Jordan in the upcoming ballot, several members remained resolute in their opposition. There was a possibility that the opposition could grow since some members had only committed to backing Jim Jordan on the first ballot.
In January, 19 Republicans initially voted against Kevin McCarthy for Speaker before he eventually secured a majority after 15 votes. Jim Jordan had not yet disclosed how long he intended to persist in his pursuit of the Speaker’s position.
Over the past several days, Jim Jordan and his allies had undertaken significant efforts to win over skeptical lawmakers. Jim Jordan personally presented his candidacy to these lawmakers, while his allies outside Congress issued veiled threats of political consequences should they oppose a candidate favored by the Trump-aligned GOP base.
The House remained in a state of paralysis until a Speaker was selected, rendering it unable to address critical legislative matters, such as additional military aid to Israel or government funding. The looming threat of a government shutdown added to the urgency of resolving the impasse surrounding the Speaker’s election.
The protracted deadlock spurred discussions among rank-and-file Republicans and Democrats about the possibility of empowering a Speaker pro tempore in the event that Jim Jordan failed once again in the second ballot. Nevertheless, numerous significant obstacles remained in implementing such a move.
In the upcoming vote, at least one of Jim Jordan’s opponents, GOP Representative Doug LaMalfa of California, a long-time ally of Kevin McCarthy, publicly announced his decision to switch his vote and support Jim Jordan in the second ballot.
Representative John James of Michigan, who had cast his vote for Oklahoma Representative Tom Cole for Speaker, expressed his openness to supporting Jim Jordan in the subsequent rounds of voting. He indicated that he would engage in discussions with Jim Jordan to discuss their mutual support.
However, multiple Republicans remained unwavering in their opposition to Jim Jordan. Several of Jim Jordan’s opponents called for an immediate floor vote for Speaker in the aftermath of the initial vote.
GOP Representative Carlos Gimenez of Florida, who had cast his vote for Kevin McCarthy, categorically stated that he would never vote for Jim Jordan but would be open to considering alternative candidates. He emphasized, “I’m not going to be part of a coup.”
Representative John Rutherford of Florida also voiced his continued support for Steve Scalise and advocated for the party to seek a “consensus” candidate, such as interim Speaker Patrick McHenry.
Nebraska Representative Don Bacon conveyed his opposition to Jim Jordan, citing concerns about the removal of Kevin McCarthy and the subsequent blockage of Steve Scalise. He highlighted his reservations about Jim Jordan’s candidacy in the context of a small group within the Republican conference allegedly violating the rules to oust Kevin McCarthy.
A group of centrist New York Republicans, a substantial bloc of lawmakers within the House, had been engaged in private discussions regarding their vote for Speaker for several weeks. They had held consultations among themselves and contemplated casting their votes as a unified bloc. Their deliberations primarily revolved around whether to support Jim Jordan. Some members had expressed concerns about Jim Jordan’s voting record, particularly his positions on key priorities in New York, such as aid for Superstorm Sandy and 9/11 health care funding for first responders. The final decision on how they would cast their votes was not made until Tuesday morning, with four of them ultimately voting against Jim Jordan.
In contrast, House Democrats unanimously voted for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, who received more votes than Jim Jordan for Speaker, with a tally of 212 to 200. Hakeem Jeffries expressed the openness of his caucus to reach an agreement with “traditional Republicans” to reopen the House. He mentioned that informal conversations had accelerated in recent days, expressing his hope that they would continue. Hakeem Jeffries also indicated his willingness to further empower interim Speaker Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican.