Jim Jordan closes in on the votes he needs. But his House speaker bid still has issues

The right-wing firebrand still needs to win over some of his critics to get to 217

Eric Garcia
Tuesday 17 October 2023 07:12 EDT
Kevin McCarthy says he will support Jim Jordan for House speaker

Ohio Republican Rep Jim Jordan has won over a number of Republicans who were skeptical of his bid for speaker of the US House of Representatives, but he still faces significant opposition.

Before the House left Washington on Friday, 55 members of the Republican conference voted against Mr Jordan for speaker in a secret ballot. By Monday, many of his previous critics including Rep Ann Wagner of Missouri and House Armed Services Chairman Mike Roger, announced their support for Mr Jordan.

But Mr Jordan still faces significant opposition from some Republican colleagues. Many Republicans representing districts that voted for President Joe Biden still have reservations. Rep Don Bacon of Nebraska criticised the fact that many of Mr Jordan’s supporters voted to defenestrate Kevin McCarthy and blocked House Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s speaker bid before there was even a vote

“It's more about respecting the process,” he told reporters before an evening meeting in the basement of the US Capitol. “So my main concern is, as an American, we believe in the rule of law and fairness. And we had a small group of folks who broke our rules and got rid of Kevin and then a small group broke our rules and blocked Steve.”

Rep Mike Lawler, a freshman New York Republican from a Biden district, did not take questions from The Independent when asked about the meeting in the basement of the Capitol.

Mr Jordan’s supporters said that Republicans heard from their constituents during the weekend and heard how much Republican voters backed Mr Jordan.

“But people went to football games and whatnot and events over the weekend and what they heard is not necessarily you have to pick Jordan but you have to come up with an answer soon,” Rep Thomas Massie of Kentucky, an ally of Mr Jordan, told The Independent after the meeting. “And the way to do that is vote for Jordan.”

Rep Juan Ciscomani of Arizona, who represents a district that voted for Mr Biden, said most voters said they wanted to see the House return to work.

“I get the pro-Jordan calls, the anti-Jordan calls as well,” he told The Independent. “But I'm but for the most part, the main feedback that we're getting is that we need to get back to work.”

But Rep Victoria Spartz of Indiana said she would not be the deciding vote for Mr Jordan and criticised the process and what she considered intimidation tactics.

“We’re freedom-loving people, and we're gonna put people on the public pressure,” she said, adding that she did not like how some of Mr Jordan’s backers called for primary challenges against Republicans who voted against him.

The impending vote comes as the House is facing its second week without a speaker after Rep Matt Gaetz of Florida filed a motion to vacate, which seven Republicans and every Democrat joined to depose Mr McCarthy of his speakership.

After the meeting, Mr Jordan said that a speaker would be selected on Tuesday. A vote is expected around midday.

“The American people deserve to have their Congress, their House of Representatives working and you can’t have that happen until you get a speaker,” he told reporters. “We got a few more people want to talk to listen to, and then we'll have a vote tomorrow.”

It also comes as Congress hopes to pass an aid package after Hamas conducted a deadly attack in Israel earlier this month, taking multiple hostages, which led to Israel engaging in a war against Gaza. Mr Jordan said that Congress would work to aid Israel just as Mr Biden announced he would visit Israel on Wednesday.

But some Republicans remain undecided. Rep Juan Ciscomani of Arizona represents a district that voted for Mr Biden.

“What I've told my constituents is that I don't work for the speakers. I work with the speaker, whoever the speaker is, I work for my constituents in Arizona Six,” he said of his home district.

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