(Casey Harper, The Center Square) Silencing critics who claimed that House Republicans were in a state of disarray, they appeared poised to rally around Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, much the way Democrats united previously around former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., after a spate of backroom bargains and coalition-building.
Some of Jordan’s most vocal and ardent detractors had offered their support, leaving only a handful of holdouts ahead of the Tuesday afternoon vote on whether to select Jordan as the next speaker.
We’re down to the last 8 RINOs
Jim Jordan “No” votes as of 5:15 pm EST:
Don Bacon (NE-02)
Mario Díaz-Balart (FL-26)
Carlos Gimenez (FL-28)
Frank Lucas (OK-03)
John Rutherford (FL-05)
Mike Simpson (ID-02)
Steve Womack (AR-02)
Ken Buck (CO-04) https://t.co/kdB0IvlkVm
— DC_Draino (@DC_Draino) October 16, 2023
However, Democrats could still pull out a last-minute fire-alarm tactic to derail the GOP’s sudden burst of unity. In what appeared to be just such an effort, Rep. Brad Sherman, hinted at a ploy to poach faithless neocon RINOs by nominating former President George W. Bush to serve as speaker, the Daily Caller reported.
#BREAKING: House Democratic Lawmaker Floats George W. Bush For Speaker Of The House https://t.co/x8Eo27CHoh pic.twitter.com/6dpAmzsbu8
— Forbes (@Forbes) October 16, 2023
“Obviously, I’m not a real fan of how the Iraq War went” Sherman said, “but I would think that any reasonable Republican would be somebody that Democrats could work with—if it was part of a system where you didn’t have five of the most extreme Republicans blocking important legislation and saying, ‘If you bring that to the floor for a vote, we’ll knock you out of your Speakership.’”
It is unlikely that Democrats—who chose not to support the previous compromise option, centrist speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., would throw their own support behind Bush, but instead would seek simply to create more gridlock among the majority.
The House has gone without a speaker for two weeks as looming domestic and international issues continue to grow.
McCarthy was ousted after Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., filed a motion to vacate the speakership earlier this month. Now, both have publicly backed Jordan. McCarthy predicted on Twitter Monday that Jordan would win the speakership.
“Republicans must unite and elect [Jordan] as Speaker of the House!” Gaetz tweeted. “We can have better days going forward because he has the credibility, honesty, and determination to get the job done.”
Republicans must unite and elect @Jim_Jordan as Speaker of the House!
We can have better days going forward because he has the credibility, honesty, and determination to get the job done. pic.twitter.com/i0mcUwE2Kg
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) October 17, 2023
Jordan, who has spoken repeatedly about the need to unite the party, talked to reporters late Monday ahead of the vote, which is expected to be the first of multiple votes as he is not likely to secure the majority necessary the first time around.
“We need to get a Speaker tomorrow,” Jordan told reporters late Monday after meeting with his fellow Republicans. “The American people deserve to have their Congress, their House of Representatives, working, and you can’t have that happen until you get a speaker, so we need to do that. Plus we need to help our dearest friend … and closest ally, Israel.
“I felt good walking into the conference,” he added. “I feel even better now.”
While Jordan reportedly did not yet have enough votes to win the position, he had picked up significant momentum in recent days. The public floor votes will also pressure holdout Republicans, and Jordan will try to whittle away at them as the votes go on.
Within the GOP caucus, there is no main challenger to Jordan. However, multiple Republicans are expected to be nominated as potential speakers, if only so they can be votes against Jordan. If Jordan withdraws, Republicans will be back to the drawing board in finding a new nominee.
Lawmakers face another partial government shutdown deadline in mid-November as well as ongoing calls for funding Ukraine and Israel in their respective wars.
Last week, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., failed to secure the needed support and dropped out. Next in line was Jordan, but he was far from the support he needed, and many Republicans were outspoken in their hesitation or opposition.
Jordan has a reputation as a hardline conservative who has aggressively gone after Democratic administrations and questioned the 2020 presidential election results, concerning some moderate Republicans.
But Jordan worked hard through the weekend, calling and meeting with members and securing key endorsements of skeptics and Scalise allies. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., was a top Scalise ally who just last week told reporters that she would “absolutely not” vote for Jordan as Speaker.
But on Monday morning, she released a public endorsement.
“Jim Jordan and I spoke at length again this morning, and he has allayed my concerns about keeping the government open with conservative funding, the need for strong border security, our need for consistent international support in times of war and unrest, as well as the need for stronger protections against the scourge of human trafficking and child exploitation,” Wagner said in a statement.
As the Center Square previously reported, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., was reportedly considering working with Democrats to elect a Democratic speaker who would work with moderate Republicans. That news sparked backlash.
By Monday morning, Rogers publicly endorsed Jordan.
“[Jordan] and I have had two cordial, thoughtful, and productive conversations over the past two days,” Rogers tweeted. “We agreed on the need for Congress to pass a strong NDAA, appropriations to fund our government’s vital functions, and other important legislation like the Farm Bill.”
Some Democrats have begun openly campaigning against Jordan.
“If you don’t want Jim Jordan to be Speaker, make sure you contact your rep TODAY about it…” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., tweeted Tuesday morning.
Headline USA’s Ben Sellers contributed to this report.