Republicans began hurling insults at each other as they continued to fail to elect a speaker and get Congress functioning.
On Friday Steve Scalise, the favorite for the job, dropped out of the race to replace Kevin McCarthy, who was sensationally ousted 10 days ago.
It had become clear he could not get enough support in his own divided party.
Ohio congressman Jim Jordan, a key ally of Donald Trump, will now try to win the speakership, as will Austin Scott, a rank-and-file Republican from Georgia who has grown frustrated with the right wing of his party.
Republicans were meeting on Friday afternoon and could move to a internal vote.
Reps. Tom McClintock, Calif., and Reps. John Rutherford and Carlos Gimenez, both of Florida, say they still want McCarthy to come back and be speaker again.
The chaos means the House finds itself unable to take any action to provide additional funding to Israel as it prepares for a ground invasion of Gaza.
It is also unable to act to avert a potential government shutdown with federal funding set to expire within weeks.
The sudden withdrawal of House Majority Leader Steve Scalise gives an opportunity for Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. But it isn’t clear he can amass the needed 217 votes to secure the position
Rep. Jim Jordan will now again take a shot at the gavel, as will Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., who’s grown frustrated with the right wing of the conference
The Republican speaker has been deposed, the party’s top candidate has pulled out, and there is no indications anyone can command the 217 votes needed to clear a full vote for speaker on the House floor.
It all ‘makes us look like a bunch of idiots,’ said Scott ahead of his own announcement that he will now run for the top job.
‘When I woke up this morning, I had no intention of doing this,’ the rural Georgia Republican said of running for speaker.
He said he did it because he was frustrated with the dysfunction – and mad at the eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy last week.
‘We’ve got a very small group of people that they have to have everything their way. We had a group that sabotaged Speaker McCarthy and now we’ve had a group that sabotaged Steve Scalise, both of them great people,’ he groused.
‘We should just have a lottery. If you lose, you have to be speaker,’ joked Rep. Mike Collins of Georgia.
The GOP Conference for the second time rejected a change that might get their top vote getter elected to the post. It would require 217 of the 221-strong conference to agree on a leader before a speaker vote hits the floor – to avoid the spectacle of the repeated defeats at the start of Kevin McCarthy’s short-lived speakership.
The blasts at their own caucus came after House Majority Leader Steve Scalise stunned colleagues by pulling out of the race for speaker, after getting the most votes in an internal vote.
That still left him about 100 short of what he needed, and about a dozen holdouts once again making demands he decided he couldn’t meet.
The House continues to function without an elected speaker. Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) has been filling the position. Without a Speaker, the House can’t function
The House dysfunction has prevented it form acting on even a simple resolution as close ally Israel comes under attack and prepares for a possible ground invasion of Gasa
The withdrawal of Scalise provides an opportunity for House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). But although he could win support from many conservatives who feared Scalise would be a replay of the McCarthy speakership, a band of party centrists have raised doubts about rallying behind the original House Freedom Caucus chairman, who has led the charge against Hunter Biden.
‘I think we’ll get 217 votes,’ Jordan predicted.
House Republicans met Friday morning in an effort to find a way forward. There has even been talk of trying to move legislation that would provide increased authority for the temporary Speaker Pro Tempore, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.). But the legislation that created the position appears to tie his role closely to the process of electing the new speaker.
Steve Scalise, who had been the favorite to be the next Republican speaker of the House, has sensationally dropped out of the race, leaving Congress paralyzed.
The House’s number two Republican had won an election among members of his party to be their nominee for speaker after Kevin McCarthy was spectacularly ousted from the role last week.
But with Republicans’ narrow majority Scalise could only afford to lose the support of four members of his own party in a vote by the whole House to confirm him as speaker.
Around 20 of his Republican colleagues indicated they would oppose him if a full House vote was held, so he withdrew.
A disappointed Scalise, who is currently also battling blood cancer, said: ‘Our (Republican) conference still has to come together and it’s not there. There’s still some people that have their own agendas.’
It has been 10 days since McCarthy was unseated by his own party, the first speaker in the history of the United States to be removed in such a way.
The list of Republicans who say they will oppose Majority Leader Steve Scalise, the House’s number two Republican, for the job has grown longer, not shorter
Former Speaker of the House Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks to reporters after a Republican meeting at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023
Without a speaker, the House remains in a state of paralysis despite increasingly urgent calls for it to take measures to help Israel in its war against Hamas.
It has also been unable to do anything to avert a possible federal government shutdown on Nov. 17.
Democrats attacked Republicans for creating chaos, while Republicans accused each other of being ‘dysfunctional and broken’.
Scalise said his Republican colleagues needed to ‘look in the mirror’ and put aside rivalries, and do what was best for the country.
Without a speaker, the House remains in a state of inaction and despite increasingly urgent calls for it to take measures to help Israel in its war against Hamas.
It has also been unable to do anything to avert a possible federal government shutdown on Nov. 17.
He said: ‘There’s some folks that need to you look in the mirror over the next couple of days and decide to get back on track. You can try to get back on track, or you can pursue your own agenda, but you can’t do both.’
Scalise said he was still optimistic Republicans could coalesce around someone.
‘I think we’re gonna get there. It’s not gonna happen tomorrow, it needs to happen soon,’ he said.
Tensions on Capitol Hill are sky-high as ten days pass and Republicans now have no nominee for speaker.
‘Dysfunctional, disorganized and broken,’ is how Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, – who wants Donald Trump to be the House Speaker – described his party after leaving a meeting of House Republicans.
‘I don’t think the lord Jesus could get to 217!’ Nehls recalled a member saying in the meeting.
Jim Jordan, Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, could try to become speaker
Jim Jordan is a key ally in Congress of Donald Trump
‘We’re not moving forward,’ said Rep. Jen Kiggans, R-Va., who admitted she is worried about how the disarray will play into her swing district race in 2024.
‘We’ve got war in Israel … It’s really frustrating.’
Nancy Mace, one of the Republicans who refused to back Scalise, said it was because of a comment he once reportedly made about former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke.
Scalise was said to have described himself as like Duke ‘without the baggage’.
Most of the Republicans who refused to support Scalise were backers of Ohio congressman Jordan, a key ally of Donald Trump.
Jordan is trying to become speaker but there were widespread doubts he could drum up enough support in the Republican party either.
‘Members have got to get it through their heads that they’re squandering a majority in the House. They are squandering a majority. The American people deserve better than this,’ Republican representative Andy Barr said after Scalise announced his withdrawal.
‘We were elected for a reason, but we are reversing an election because we can’t even find a speaker,’ he added. ‘That is not what the American people voted for in 2022.’
Republicans were meeting behind closed doors on Friday to consider options for a new second secret ballot – Scalise having won the first – and that could come later in the day.
Rivals for the speakership Jim Jordan (left) and Steve Scalise (right) have worked closely together before
‘We need to focus on the person that can get the votes and get the job done as quick as we can, get it done and move on,’ Republican congressman Representative Roger Williams said on Friday.
He said it was not clear how, adding that it was unclear how many of the House’s 221 Republicans remained in Washington ahead of the weekend.
Representative Don Bacon, a Republican centrist, said he and other lawmakers are withholding support for Jordan for now.
‘I’m grappling with that,’ Bacon said. ‘We had five individuals today who said they would only vote for Jim and not Steve. So, many of us … feel that’s rewarding bad behavior if we do that.’
Bacon also said he would expect a Jordan bid for the nomination to face a challenger.
Republicans had been hoping to avoid a repeat of the embarrassing spectacle that occurred in January, when hardline conservatives forced McCarthy to endure 15 votes over four days before finally winning the gavel.
Scalise’s withdrawal followed days of closed-door stalemate.
Representative Greg Murphy suggested that Republicans could settle on a compromise candidate, perhaps Representative Patrick McHenry, who has served as acting speaker since McCarthy’s ousting on Oct. 3.
The ongoing schism within Republican circles has also raised speculation about Republicans possibly reaching out to Democrats to support a consensus candidate.
Scalise and Donald Trump ally Rep. Jim Jordan, chair of the powerful Judiciary Committee, faced off in an internal vote of the House GOP where Scalise won 113-99.