The drama surrounding the appointment of a new speaker of the House continued on Thursday and into Friday, with the Republican party’s official nominee, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, changing course multiple times over whether he would hold an additional round of balloting, ultimately holding another unsuccessful vote on Friday morning.
Jordan lost two ballots earlier this week, failing to attain the necessary majority vote needed to become speaker. With the House so narrowly divided between Republicans and Democrats, Jordan could only afford to lose three votes from within his own conference during those votes (with every Democrat in the chamber voting against him) in order to win the job.
On the first ballot, 20 Republicans voted against Jordan; on the second, 22 voted against him. Members of the GOP conference who opposed Jordan promised that their numbers would only grow if more ballots were held.
On the third ballot held on Friday, Jordan could only afford to lose five votes from within his party. Twenty-five Republicans ended up voting against him.
The events leading up to the Friday vote were chaotic. Appearing unable to convince any of the dissenting Republicans to support him, Jordan reportedly sought to push forward a measure on Thursday to let the speaker pro tempore, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-North Carolina), assume some of the powers of the speaker through the rest of the year, through a bipartisan vote to change the House rules. Early on Thursday, sources close to Jordan indicated that he wouldn’t seek a third ballot that day or even later that week.
However, after a meeting on Thursday with members of his conference demonstrated that most Republican House members opposed the idea, Jordan announced that a vote would happen later on Thursday. As more hours passed, Jordan’s office later altered that announcement, saying that the third ballot would happen on Friday at 10 a.m. Eastern Time instead.
During a press conference held early Friday morning, Jordan remained steadfast in his plan to run for speaker. However, he did not indicate any “new plan or strategy to flip the 22 GOP votes opposed to him,” or how he would prevent “more Republicans from joining them,” observed Garrett Haake, NBC News senior Capitol Hill correspondent.
For much of the press conference, Jordan spoke about the Wright Brothers and the history of American aviation — topics that are unrelated to the House speaker vote.
“I think the American people are thirsty for change, I think they’re hungry for leadership…they are looking for House Republicans to step up,” Jordan said, adding that there is “important work to do” on issues relating to Israel’s war on Palestine, government funding and oversight work in the House.
“There’s been multiple votes for speaker before, we all know that,” said Jordan. “I just know that we need to get a speaker as soon as possible. … Our plan this weekend is to get a speaker of the House elected as soon as possible so that we can help the American people.”
Supporters of Jordan indicated that, if the Friday 10 a.m. vote fails (as is expected), multiple votes would happen beyond Friday as well.
“We’ve heard from our colleagues and the American people. Additional votes are expected through the weekend,” Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) said.
Jordan lost the third round of balloting shortly after his press conference, by 194 votes for him to 235 votes against. A total of 25 votes from Republicans were cast against Jordan, indicating that he faces growing opposition from within his own party, while 210 votes were cast for Democratic House leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York.
Even as Jordan and his allies seem ready to charge forward with more votes this weekend, it appears that they haven’t convinced any of the GOP holdouts to switch their votes. Republicans who remain opposed to Jordan’s candidacy have suggested to him that he should reassess moving forward with more ballots.
Jordan met with a dozen or so of the holdouts on Thursday, Punchbowl News’s Jake Sherman reported. “Every Republican who met with Jordan…told him they would not back his candidacy for House speaker, according to multiple sources in the room,” Sherman said.
There are a number of reasons why Republicans oppose Jordan becoming speaker — Republicans from swing districts, for example, view support of his speakership as potentially endangering their chances of winning in next year’s congressional races. But after Jordan received the party’s official endorsement in a conference vote last week, his tactics to convince reluctant Republicans to back him ended up having the opposite result.
Jordan’s persuasion campaign relied on pressuring Republicans in their home districts, encouraging his supporters to call their offices and bully them into backing the Ohio lawmaker for speaker, lest they risk losing to primary challengers next year. But that strategy backfired when a number of Jordan’s backers made threats to the lawmakers, some of them violent in nature.
The landlord for one of the constituent offices for Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colorado) said he was terminating his lease, apparently out of Buck’s refusal to support Jordan. Another Republican reportedly “had to have a sheriff stationed at their daughter’s school because of threats,” CNN’s Melanie Zanona reported. Iowa GOP Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks received multiple credible death threats to her office because she voted against Jordan.
In one voicemail to a Republican lawmaker’s wife, obtained and verified by CNN, the caller referring to the lawmaker as a “deep state prick,” and threatened to “fucking come follow you all over the place.” The caller also vowed that the lawmaker’s wife would be “molested like you can’t ever imagine.”
If these lawmakers (and others like them) opposed Jordan before, it’s unlikely that they will begin supporting him now — which means that the impasse isn’t likely to come to an end anytime soon.
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