Updated Oct 12, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Steve Scalise drops out of House speaker race

Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) announced Thursday he's abandoning his campaign for House speaker after a persistent group of GOP holdouts refused to budge.

Why it matters: It leaves Republicans without a GOP nominee for the job nine days after former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was ousted – to the growing frustration of GOP lawmakers.

  • "I was very clear we have to have everybody put their agendas on the side and focus on what this country needs this country is counting on us," Scalise told reporters on Thursday.
  • "But there's some folks that really need to look in the mirror over the next couple of days and decide are we going to get it back on track, or they're going to try to pursue their own agenda," he said.
  • Scalise said he will remain in his role as House majority leader, and he has no plans to endorse another speaker candidate at this time.

Zoom in: Scalise won the nomination on Wednesday by a 113-99 margin, but on Thursday it became clear he wasn't making the progress needed to risk a vote on the House floor.

  • The House GOP is in a tight spot, with any combination of five Republicans being enough to sink a speaker bid — at least without help from Democrats.
  • House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) narrowly lost the nomination to Scalise, and could now contest the nomination again.

What's next: Several lawmakers said they don't expect the GOP conference to revote on a nominee on Thursday.

  • "I don't think so, I would be surprised, this is just kind of a hash-out session" said Greg Murphy (R-N.C.).
  • Rep. Dan Meuser (R-Pa.) said it's "highly unlikely but not impossible."
  • Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.) said there is a "real possibility" of a vote over the weekend.

What they're saying: "We are a ship that doesn't have a rudder right now," said Rep. Mark Alford (R-Mo.). "It's a frustrating situation … this is a troubling time for our conference."

  • "It is getting tiresome" for a small group of members to control the conference, Van Drew said.

Go deeper: House GOP's "broken" conference sees no way out of speaker crisis

Go deeper