Battle For House Speaker May Be Put on Pause as Choas Continues

In the wake of an unresolved House speakership race, House Republicans contemplate introducing a motion to temporarily empower Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) to oversee House affairs until January. This proposal, advocated by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), comes after his bid for the speakership weakened in the second vote held on Oct. 18.

As a result, the scheduled third vote on Oct. 19 has been canceled. This proposal aims to navigate the present deadlock around the speakership, thereby facilitating the House to focus on pressing issues such as backing for Israel and finalizing the 2024 appropriations before the impending deadline of Nov. 17.

While floated after McCarthy was voted out, the proposal now has Mr. Jordan’s endorsement. On Oct. 17, Jordan failed to clinch the speakership when 20 of his Republican colleagues withheld their support. During a re-vote the following day, he garnered three additional votes but also saw four departures, leaving him 17 votes short of the required majority.

Simultaneously, Reps. David Joyce (R-Ohio) and Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) have proposed mechanisms to temporarily appoint Rep. Patrick McHenry as speaker pro tempore until a permanent speaker takes the helm. Notably, Mr. McHenry, as per current House rules, can only oversee the election of a speaker.

The decision to back McHenry has become more prominent after Jordan’s second unsuccessful bid. However, Jordan’s intentions after the second ballot remain somewhat vague. While he expressed hope for a Republican speaker, he didn’t comment on potential subsequent ballots. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.) mentioned that the decision ultimately lay with Jordan, but he would support McHenry’s temporary empowerment if Jordan agreed.

While some Republicans believe this interim solution could break the impasse and allow the House to progress, critics, including many Jordan supporters, view the move as potentially unconstitutional. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) stressed the duty of the Republican majority to the American populace to decide on a permanent speaker. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) emphasized the need for a definite choice.

On the other side of the aisle, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) expressed that he could support a compromise only if Jordan’s candidature was concluded, given the unanimous Democratic resistance against Jordan, who is seen as a “right-wing extremist.”

The contentious environment has been made worse by two crucial events: the removal of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) by a combination of eight GOP members and a majority of Democrats and the thwarted nomination of Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) due to a small dissenting GOP faction.

Moreover, after Jordan’s nomination on Oct. 13, allegations arose about a pressure campaign by his supporters to influence fellow Republicans. While lobbying is customary in Washington, this particular campaign was accused of resorting to threats and intimidation. Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) reported receiving hate calls, and Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) mentioned genuine death threats.

Though Jordan was not implicated in these actions, he took to social media on Oct. 18, denouncing such tactics. Nevertheless, such controversies appear to have solidified the resistance to his candidature.
In a recent Fox News interview on Oct. 17, Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) addressed the issue, stating, “I don’t think that’s what we should be doing right now,” emphasizing the detrimental effects of intimidation in political decision-making.