• Wed. Jun 12th, 2024

Speaker fight: Jim Jordan wins over some GOP skeptics

Speaker fight: Jim Jordan wins over some GOP skeptics


Rep. Jim Jordan won the support of several key skeptics in the Republican conference Monday, bolstering momentum for his bid for speaker ahead of a planned floor vote on Tuesday.

House Armed Services Chairman Mike Rogers and House Appropriations Defense subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert – two key defense hawks, the GOP bloc perhaps most weary of Jordan – announced Monday morning they would back Jordan on the House floor. And Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri, who called Jordan a “non-starter” for speaker last week, said Monday that she would support the Ohio Republican, too – as did Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida, another previous holdout.

“Jim Jordan and I spoke at length again this morning, and he has allayed my concerns about keeping the government open with conservative funding, the need for strong border security, our need for consistent international support in times of war and unrest, as well as the need for stronger protections against the scourge of human trafficking and child exploitation,” Wagner said in a statement. “Jim Jordan is our conference nominee, and I will support his nomination for Speaker on the House floor.”

Even with the additional support, Jordan still faces an uphill climb to be elected speaker. On the floor, he can afford to lose only four Republicans if every member votes, because a speaker needs a majority of the full House to be elected.

Jordan told CNN he will go to the floor for a speaker vote at noon ET Tuesday, whether or not he has the votes locked up. “I think the only way to do this, the way the Founders intended, is you … have to vote tomorrow,” Jordan said. “We set it for 12 p.m. ET. I feel good about it.”

Asked if he would go to a second ballot, Jordan said: “We are going to elect a speaker tomorrow.”

If Jordan is able to secure the votes to become speaker Tuesday, it would put an end to a chaotic and unprecedented two weeks in the House following McCarthy’s ouster. Without a speaker, the House is unable to pass legislation despite the international crises and a government shutdown one month away, though some members have explored empowering interim Speaker Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican who was appointed to the position following Kevin McCarthy’s ousting.

But if Jordan is unable to corral enough support to win a floor vote, Republicans would be back at square one, leaving the House in a speakerless paralysis.

Last week, 55 Republicans voted inside the GOP conference against committing to supporting Jordan on the floor. The Ohio Republican then sent the conference home for the weekend, saying he planned to speak to the members one-by-one.

GOP activists, meanwhile, went on the attack against those opposing Jordan, arguing that doing so would empower House Democrats.

Jordan and allies look to flip holdouts

On Sunday, a senior Republican House member told CNN he believes there are still roughly 40 “no” votes, noting he’d spoken to 20 members willing to block Jordan’s path to the floor in a potential roll-call vote Tuesday. But another GOP source familiar with the matter said Jordan has had positive conversations with members, and believes by Tuesday evening he will be elected speaker.

As a series of one-time Jordan holdouts announced Monday they were now backing Jordan, an ally helping whip votes told CNN Jordan believes he is within “striking distance” of having the votes to secure the gavel.

Rep. Chip Roy of Texas predicted there were fewer than 10 holdouts that remained on Monday. “We are somewhere south of 10 who are still being recalcitrant,” Roy said on the Erick Erickson Radio Show Monday morning.

Jordan allies say they believe they can get the no votes down to the teens by Tuesday, although a source cautioned it’s hard to know for sure until the voting begins. If Jordan has around 20 or fewer holdouts, the thinking is – like McCarthy – he can grind it out on the floor.

It’s one thing, allies say, to be opposed to Jordan on a secret ballot in a closed-door meeting. It’s another thing to vote against him on the floor.

McCarthy on Monday told CNN, “yes,” he believes Jordan will be able to pull it off on the floor Tuesday, when asked about Jordan’s chances on his way into the speaker’s office.

The strategy comes as there is still serious work to do. Republican Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska told CNN he spoke to Jordan on Sunday and told him he still would not support him. Among the reasons he listed: Jordan’s vote against a short-term spending bill, as well as out of principle that a handful of members have been controlling every move of the conference for months.

“I am not trying to be an a-hole to Jim,” said Bacon, adding that he is not necessarily a “hard no.”

Bacon also told Jordan he wouldn’t be a thorn in his side if he’s ultimately elected, saying he doesn’t intend to act like Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida did toward McCarthy.

Other members say they are still weighing their options, but another holdout warned that if Jordan allies intend to try and bully members into being a “yes,” they ought to think twice and warned it could backfire.

Another senior GOP aide told CNN that some moves deployed over the weekend had rubbed members the wrong way. The source shared an email from a Fox News producer for Sean Hannity that asked them to answer a series of questions about their boss’ position on Jordan.

The Hannity producer asked if it was true their boss opposed Jordan, and then wrote, “If true, Hannity would like to know why during a war breaking out between Israel and Hamas, with the war in Ukraine, with the wide-open borders, with a budget that’s unfinished why would Rep. [X} be against Rep. Jim Jordan for speaker?”

“Please let us know when Rep. [X] plans on opening the People’s House so work can be done,” the producer wrote.

The email, which CNN reviewed from a source, was first reported by Axios.

Hannity, the Fox host, has been publicly advocating for Jordan, telling his supporters to “call your member and tell them” to support the Ohio Republican.

Jordan sent GOP lawmakers a “dear colleague” letter on Monday urging the conference to come together.

“The country and our conference cannot afford us attacking each other right now,” he wrote. “It is time we unite to get back to work on behalf of the American people.”

Republicans are expected to meet again behind closed doors Monday evening ahead of Tuesday’s vote.

If Jordan wins the vote, his election as speaker would come after his own supporters blocked Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s path to the speaker’s gavel. While Jordan said he would support Scalise, more than a dozen of his supporters refused to support the House majority leader after Scalise defeated Jordan in a conference vote last week, 113 to 99.

Scalise dropped out in the face of the entrenched opposition, giving Jordan the opportunity to get the conference behind him.

Now Jordan is making the pitch to his skeptics to do what the Ohio Republican’s backers would not, urging the conference to coalesce around him, even after more than 50 Republicans said they were opposed. The statements from Rogers and Wagner noted they were supporting the nominee chosen by the conference.

“Since I was first elected to the House, I have always been a team player and supported what the majority of the Republican Conference agrees to,” Rogers wrote on X. The Alabama Republican said that he had “two cordial, thoughtful, and productive conversations over the past two days” with Jordan about passing legislation, including the annual defense authorization bill and the farm bill.

There are still signs that Jordan doesn’t have the entire conference on board. GOP Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas demurred when asked by CNN’s Kate Bolduan if he would vote for Jordan on the floor.

“You will know how I vote when I vote, but I have serious issues about where we stand right now as a conference,” he said.

Womack also expressed frustration with his conference and many of Jordan’s supporters. “The goalposts just continue to move,” he said. “The people that are promoting Jim Jordan, for the most part, are the people who presided over the ouster of Kevin McCarthy, so it is kind of interesting to see all the bedfellows here.”

Last week, the Senate was in recess while House Republicans tried to elect a speaker. But the upper chamber will be back Monday and plans to quickly consider an aid package to Israel – allowing Senate Democrats to paint a stark contrast between the two chambers if the speaker fight drags on.

“We’re not waiting for the House,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday at a news conference in Israel, where he was leading a bipartisan congressional delegation. “We believe that if the Senate works in a strong bipartisan way, it may indeed improve the chances that the House, even with its current dysfunction, will act.”

In addition to passing a new aid package for Israel, government funding runs out in roughly a month, and the White House is still pushing for Congress to approve additional aid to Ukraine – all issues that a new speaker will need to navigate.

As the speaker fight has dragged on, lawmakers have looked at alternative ways to get the House moving. There’s been discussion as to whether McHenry could be given expanded powers, though it’s not clear there would be support in the chamber to do so.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said Sunday there have been “informal conversations” about a bipartisan governing coalition, though he did not say whether there was a candidate on the Republican side who could garner Democratic votes.

“There are informal conversations that have been underway. When we get back to Washington tomorrow, it’s important to begin to formalize those discussions,” Jeffries said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a Texas Republican, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Sunday that the “manufactured divisions” inside the conference make it hard for any candidate to get the necessary votes.

“Nothing’s impossible,” Crenshaw said of Jordan’s chances. “But it’s going to be really, really difficult, based on what I’m hearing.”

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

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