Oct 18, 2023 - Politics & Policy

GOP scrambles for escape hatch as Jim Jordan falls short again

Rep. Jim Jordan. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

House Republicans are grasping for even a short-term solution after speaker nominee Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) failed to secure the gavel again on Wednesday.

Driving the news: Jordan lost support on the second ballot and could slip further in future votes, putting Republicans no closer to filling the House's speaker vacancy than they were two weeks ago.

  • One House Republican who voted for Jordan on both ballots told Axios that they won't back the Ohioan on a third vote: "I'm not voting for him."
  • Jordan's opponents are also digging in. Asked if he's prepared to keep voting against Jordan, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) told Axios: "I am ... I'm not voting for him."

What they're saying: "When you're going in the wrong direction after two rounds after two rounds, that's obviously not a great sign," conceded Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.), who has voted for Jordan both times.

  • "I ... very much acknowledge both math and gravity, and there was no change and, in fact, a loss of the vote today," said Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.), who has also voted twice for Jordan.
  • Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.), who opposes Jordan and has voted for former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) both times, said "I don't think it's going well for him."

State of play: Jordan, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, picked up votes from two defectors as well as one other Republican who was absent on Tuesday, but lost support from four others who initially voted for him.

  • "We picked up some today, a couple dropped off," Jordan told reporters after the vote. "But they voted for me before, I think they'll come back again."
  • Jordan said he will stay in the race, though the timing of the next vote remains up in the air.

What we're watching: Some members are growing increasingly vocal about forcing a vote on a resolution to empower Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.).

  • "I think the most appropriate approach at this point is to empower the speaker pro tem, give us the time to work as a conference, and more importantly get back to governing," said Molinaro.
  • "Generally, I would support something that would open the House," said Gimenez.

Zoom in: Garcia plans to argue to GOP leadership that retooling their conference meetings is the key to breaking the impasse.

  • "Right now, the construct is everyone gets in a room, we open a mic and it's a therapy session ... That's not working," he told reporters.
  • Garcia said the GOP should go "off-site" for their next meeting: "It sounds silly, but let's go to Gettysburg or something. Let's go somewhere that is meaningful to our nation's history so the Republican Party can once again remember why we do what we do."
  • "We need to sequester ourselves somewhere else outside the Beltway, away from the drama, away from the lobbyists, away from all the grease here," he added.
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