Oct 11, 2023 - Politics & Policy

GOP punts on speaker vote as Scalise holdouts dig in

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images.

The House is holding off on a vote to elect a new speaker as a small but persistent group of Republicans refuses to throw their support behind Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.).

Why it matters: The delay means another day without a permanent speaker as lawmakers in both parties grow increasingly anxious to get back to critical legislation funding the government and supporting Israel.

Driving the news: "Members are advised that House Republicans are planning to adjourn and votes are no longer expected in the House today," House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) said in a notice to members.

  • The House is scheduled  to reconvene at noon tomorrow – though there's no guarantee the speaker vote will happen then.
  • Republicans had hoped to hold a floor vote on Wednesday afternoon.

State of play: Scalise won the GOP conference’s nomination for speaker by a 113-99 vote, but he needs 217 votes to become speaker and thus can only afford to lose around four Republican votes on the House floor.

  • Several members who supported Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said they will continue to do so on the floor, including Reps. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Barry Moore (R-Ala.), Max Miller (R-Ohio), Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.) and Bob Good (R-Va.).
  • Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.) said he plans to vote for McCarthy “until he says, 'Hey don't vote for anybody else [but Scalise].'”
  • Both Jordan and McCarthy are supporting Scalise.

Zoom in: There is also a large non-committal bloc. "There are a lot of members who are undecided – I'm one of them," House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner (R-Ohio) said on CNN.

  • Scalise is "going to have to make the case as to how he can pull the conference together after what has been really a traumatic time and chaos on Capitol Hill," Turner said.
  • Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said his "primary concern" is Scalise’s successful effort to kill his proposed rule change requiring a GOP speaker nominee to win unanimous support.
  • “There is a tendency in this town for the status quo to take shape and be able to roll over people,” he said. “That raises certain concerns and questions that I’m seeking to be addressed.”

What we’re hearing: One House Republican told Axios that the GOP conference said “not to expect votes tonight… and maybe not tomorrow.”

  • “Scalise doesn't yet have 217. And [may] never have 217 votes … I think there are 5 or 6 'never’ Scalise — but most others are all playing the same game to get a deal,” the lawmaker said, adding that the demands of the holdouts are “all over the place.”
  • Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), the chair of the Republican Main Street Caucus, said it’s “sort of hard to categorize some of these holdouts,” adding, “Honestly, I did not realize that some of these people were upset.”

Between the lines: Johnson acknowledged there are “a lot of similarities to January,” when McCarthy had to engage in backroom horse-trading with 20 rebels until he secured the gavel after 15 grueling ballots.

  • Republicans may hold a conference meeting tomorrow morning as they try to reach a consensus, according to a lawmaker.
  • Asked if Republicans need to lock themselves in a room until the matter is resolved, a frustrated Johnson quipped: "I would like … to have the power to lock some people in some places, for sure."
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