Jim Jordan loses first vote to become House speaker as GOP chaos deepens

The US House of Representatives now enters its second week without a speaker

Eric Garcia
Tuesday 17 October 2023 14:56 EDT
Moment Jim Jordan loses first round of House speaker vote

The US House of Representatives failed to vote on a speaker after 20 Republicans voted against Rep Jim Jordan, despite the overwhelming majority of the House GOP conference voting to make him speaker.

The vote against Mr Jordan comes as the House marks two weeks since Rep Matt Gaetz (R-FL) filed a motion to vacate, which led to seven other Republicans and every Democratic representative present to depose former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Mr Jordan’s nomination came after House Majority Steve Scalise removed himself from the running despite the fact he beat Mr Jordan in an internal vote within the GOP conference. Mr Jordan had worked to win over many skeptics within his party and successfully flipped many of them.

But Mr Jordan needed to win 216 of the 220 votes present in the chamber that day. Ultimately Reps Don Bacon of Nebraska, Carlos Gimenez of Florida, Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, John Rutherford of Florida, Mike Simpson of Idaho, Tony Gonzales of Texas, Nick LaLota of New York, Doug LaMalfa of California, Mike Lawler of New York, John James of Michigan, Victoria Spartz of Indiana, Lori Chavez-DeRemer of Oregon, Jake Ellzey of Texas, Anthony D’Esposito of New York, Andrew Garbarino of New York, Ken Buck of Colorado, Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania and Jen Kiggans of Virginia opposed him opposed his nomination. Reps David Joyce of Ohio did not vote.

Mr Lawler, a Republican who represents a district that voted for President Joe Biden, told The Independent that he cast his vote for Mr McCarthy because he did not believe Mr McCarthy should have been removed.

Rep Scott Perry, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus that Mr Jordan co-founded, told The Independent that Mr Jordan losing the first ballot was “predictable.”

“You remember January, right? It started out in essentially the same place,” Mr Perry said.

Many Republicans cast their votes for Mr McCarthy and Mr Scalise in protest of how they were treated. On Tuesday, Mr Bacon had protested how some conservatives had deposed Mr McCarthy and blocked Mr Scalise.

“So my main concern is, as an American, we believe in the rule of law and fairness,” Mr Bacon told reporters on Monday evening before a meeting among House Republicans. “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 Derrick Van Orden (R-WI), who backed Mr Jordan, said he did not think everyone who opposed Mr Jordan did so for attention.

“I know some of those folks that don't want a reality television show,” he told The Independent. “ I don't think it's serving the American people, but some of those people that voted for folks other than Jim Jordan are very serious legislators, and I don't know why they would do that.”

Mr Diaz-Balart told reporters he had changed his position.

“I’m in the same place,” he said. He added that he could see himself supporting other candidates. “We are now in a position where we are where we are and so we have to now move forward.”

By contrast, Democrats unanimously voted for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York. Mr Jeffries told reporters he was having conversations with Republicans every day.

“We just want to reopen the House of Representatives so we can do the people's business,” he said.

The impasse comes as the House faces numerous crises it must address. Congress must pass the legislation to keep the government open in November. The handful of conservatives had voted to depose Mr McCarthy because had passed a “clean” continuing resolution to keep the government open without any conservative riders in September.

In addition, many in Congress – not just in the House, but also the Senate – hope to pass aid packages to Ukraine as it seeks to push back against Russian aggression and to Israel as it seeks to respond to a terrorist from Hamas.

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