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Rep. Jim Jordan speaks outside the Capitol. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

More than 40 prominent figures in the conservative movement plan to send an open letter to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), urging the Freedom Caucus member to declare himself a candidate for Speaker “at once” to replace Paul Ryan.

Axios has obtained a letter — circulated by Ginni Thomas, longtime leader in the conservative movement and spouse of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — stating that current House Republican leadership "has utterly failed" and "proven that it’s part of the Swamp," and that Jordan is the solution. Richard Viguerie, Chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, and Jenny Beth Martin, Chairman of the Tea Party Patriots, are among the more th 40 people who have also signed on.

Why it matters: Ryan has chosen to remain Speaker through the midterm elections despite announcing his retirement. But behind the scenes, the Republican conference has been restive and many members privately question whether it’s tenable for him to last out the year as a lame duck Speaker.

  • Now, conservative leaders who have long loathed Republican leadership are seizing this opportunity to promote Jordan. Along with his Freedom Caucus colleague Mark Meadows, Jordan has been a bane of leadership’s existence during his time in Congress.

What they're saying: "Our supporters want to see Jim Jordan be the Speaker, and they’ve wanted that for several years," Jenny Beth Martin told Axios. "We’ve also called for Paul Ryan to step down as Speaker prior to him announcing he would not run for reelection."

  • Asked about the letter, Jordan told Axios: "The American people want results, and I’m committed to bringing that change. It’s as simple as this — doing what we told the voters we would do.”

The backdrop: Ryan has already endorsed Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to succeed him, but McCarthy allies have told Axios they worry he won’t do well in a protracted period of uncertainty, which would allow his opponents plenty of time to criticize him.

Go deeper

57 mins ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.

By the numbers: Catholics, Biden and abortion

Expand chart
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Biden — the second Catholic U.S. president — will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, as some church leaders debate whether to deny Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

By the numbers: Overall, two in three U.S. Catholics believe Biden should be allowed to take Communion despite his stance on abortion, according to polling by Pew Research Center.

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause, chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.