House Republicans convened privately on Tuesday, with Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan presenting their cases for the speaker’s role. The caucus plans to reconvene for a vote on Wednesday. It will be a daunting task for either of the two rivals to gather the 217 votes required to become the next speaker. With the ongoing conflict in Israel, the House is under immense pressure to select a leader. The identity of the next House leader is anyone’s guess at this point.
Both Republican candidates have their respective supporters in the party’s conference. However, some members have expressed their preference for McCarthy, especially with the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. “We need stability now more than ever,” said California Representative John Duarte, who believes that McCarthy’s strategy for Israel, which he released on Monday, is the most coherent amongst any of the party’s leaders.
On Monday, reporters asked McCarthy if he would consider returning as speaker after being removed from the position by a group of Republican rebels. McCarthy did not rule it out, stating that the decision would be up to the conference. He acknowledged that the House cannot do anything without a speaker, making it difficult to address legislation, particularly as calls for more aid to Israel grow. According to a CNN report, some of McCarthy’s allies could nominate him again for speaker, which would extend the process of selecting a new House leader.
Republicans in the House admit they’re in a tough spot when it comes to finding consensus on a speaker. While some Republicans are hopeful about selecting a new speaker by week’s end, others anticipate a prolonged process. Rep. Mike Garcia commented on the uncertainty, suggesting a 50/50 chance for a decision by Wednesday. Rep. Greg Murphy expressed a desire for an earlier start to the voting process, emphasizing the evening’s constructive discussions but foreseeing a closely divided outcome.
“Some are gonna throw Kevin McCarthy’s name out and then Scalise, and then Jim Jordan,” Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs committee. “I think that by and large, people accept the will of the conference, but getting to 217, that’s going to be the issue.”
Rep. Kat Cammack raised concerns about potential “backroom deals,” referencing past issues during former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s election. She questioned the candidates about any vote-related requests they might have received. Cammack revealed that only Jordan openly declined such requests.
On a brighter note, Rep. Ralph Norman felt the meeting was amicable and expressed support for both candidates, though he leans towards Jordan. Similarly, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, a Jordan supporter, is committed to backing the majority’s choice, be it Jordan or Scalise.
Before the election at 10 am tomorrow, the GOP will discuss possibly amending the nomination threshold for the speaker from a simple majority to a full House majority of 217 members.