I’ve been waiting all day to see what the House Republicans would decide. The caucus met behind closed doors to choose between Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Jim “Gym” Jordan of Ohio as the party’s candidate for Speaker of the House. Neither man has a particularly good relationship with deposed Speaker Kevin McCarthy, but it appears McCarthy is in the anyone-but-Scalise camp. Despite this, and despite the fact that McCarthy is still the first choice of a majority of the caucus, it was Scalise who came out on top.
By a vote of 113 to 99 during a closed-door party meeting, Mr. Scalise turned back a challenge by Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a favorite of the hard right. His candidacy will now go to the House floor, where chaos reigned the last time Republicans tried to elect a speaker and the divisions in the party could make for another raucous election.
Here’s what comes next:
The nomination next moves to the floor. The full House will gather at 3 p.m. and each party will nominate its candidate for speaker. Democrats have said they will nominate Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York. To earn the gavel, the next speaker has to win a majority of the lawmakers in the chamber, currently 217 if every member is present.
Keep in mind that one of those 217 members is Republican Rep. George Santos of New York who is a bit controversial, to say the least. I’m not sure how the following is supposed to happen considering the House is focused on electing a Speaker.
Republican lawmakers from New York will introduce a resolution to expel Rep. George Santos from the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Rep. Anthony D’Esposito says.
Speaking to reporters in the halls of the House, D’Esposito, R-N.Y., and Rep. Nick LaLota, R-N.Y., said they have the support of New York’s freshmen lawmakers to remove Santos, R-N.Y., after 23 new federal charges were announced against him on Tuesday.
Will Santos be present and voting? Should be interesting to see. Scalise starts out with 113 votes, which is a long way from 217. It appears that at least seven Republicans didn’t cast a vote for either candidate. My sense is there’s zero chance Scalise wins on the first ballot. If the Republicans are going to succeed in electing a partisan Speaker, meaning without relying on any Democratic votes, they might need to find someone other than Scalise and Jordan.
The Democrats should be in negotiations with some of the moderate Republicans for a consensus candidate that comes with a power-sharing agreement. It may not happen, but the longer the Republicans go without getting the near-unanimity they need, the more attractive a hybrid solution will become.
For the good of the country, this is the only solution, but it won’t happen before every other option is tried by the Republicans. The pressure is too great for them to deny power to the Democrats for this step to be taken except out of exasperation and desperation. But the GOP has checkmated itself, and their situation seems hopeless.
Grab your popcorn and hope for the best.