Oct 12, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Inside the Jordan and Scalise meeting on the House speaker race

Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) attempted to strike a deal on Wednesday with House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), five sources familiar confirmed to Axios.

Driving the news: Jordan offered to nominate Scalise for speaker on the House floor on the first ballot on the condition that Scalise return the favor if he failed to win after the first round of voting.

  • Jordan previously stated that he was planning to back Scalise on the floor, and said he was encouraging hesitant members to back the Louisiana Republican. But a block of conservatives asserted they would continue backing Jordan on the floor, with Scalise allies hesitant about Jordan's commitment to actually backing him for the gavel.
  • Scalise announced he was withdrawing from the race and remaining majority leader on Thursday evening, telling reporters "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 back on track, or if they're going to pursue their own agenda."
  • Three sources confirmed Jordan was making calls to gauge support following Scalise's announcement.

What they're saying: A Jordan spokesperson confirmed that there was a Jordan-Scalise conversation.

  • "This was a meeting between Mr. Jordan and Mr. Scalise only and the details in this story are inaccurate," said Jordan spokesman Russell Dye.
  • "This was an entirely cordial conversation and Mr. Scalise said he wanted to go to the floor right away, so Mr. Jordan offered to nominate him on the floor, and requested that if we had to go to the floor and Mr. Scalise didn't have the votes — he nominate Mr. Jordan, the only other announced candidate for speaker," Dye said.
  • "Mr. Scalise agreed to think about it and said he would call Mr. Jordan in forty-five minutes. Mr. Scalise is a great friend to Mr. Jordan and an incredible leader in our conference," Dye said.

One GOP lawmaker familiar with the conversation told Axios that Jordan told Scalise "America wants me!" before leaving his office.

  • "He tried to extort Steve and Steve said no. 'I will nominate and vote for you in first round and if you don't win you have to support me in second round,' He's a f***ing snake and disgraceful," another lawmaker said. "There's zero chance Jim Jordan is speaker after the last 30 hours."

The big picture: Given the slim GOP majority, garnering enough support to secure the gavel will be an uphill battle for any candidate as infighting spills into the public eye.

  • Multiple GOP sources told Axios that former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R.Calif.)— who was ousted last week — is eyeing a comeback despite facing an uphill battle with the conservative faction of his conference.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more comments from a Jordan spokesperson.

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