The House of Representatives remained leaderless on Thursday without a clear path to elect a speaker after Rep. Jim Jordan’s bid to secure the gavel failed in two consecutive votes this week.
Jordan has said he plans to remain in the speaker race, but his bid appears dead in the water with more than 20 Republicans opposed to him assuming leadership of the chamber.
The House will meet at noon ET Thursday and could vote for a third time on Jordan’s nomination, though another ballot has not been scheduled yet.
Jordan has said he will remain in the race “until we get a speaker.”
Republicans have a narrow majority in the House, which means Jordan or any other GOP candidate can only afford to lose four votes within the party.
So far, no Republican candidate has been able to rally the party behind them. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise was the GOP’s original speaker nominee, but the Louisiana congressman was forced to abandon his bid last week after it became clear he did not have the votes.
There is discussion among some Republicans about empowering Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina as speaker until the party can coalesce around a permanent replacement.
McHenry has been filling in as speaker since Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California was ousted by a faction of eight hard-right Republicans earlier this month, but the North Carolinian’s powers are currently limited because he is acting in an interim capacity.
Speaker of the House Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-NC) gavels in the session prior to a second round of voting to elect a new Speaker of the House on the floor of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., October 18, 2023.
Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters
Rep. David Joyce of Ohio said he plans to introduce a resolution to empower McHenry to oversee the passage of legislation in the House. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York has signaled Democrats are open to backing McHenry.
“After two weeks without a Speaker of the House and no clear candidate with 217 votes in the Republican conference, it is time to look at other viable options,” Joyce told NBC News. “By empowering Patrick McHenry as Speaker Pro Tempore we can take care of our ally Israel until a new Speaker is elected.”
Rep. Jack Bergman of Michigan is also prepared to step as the GOP speaker candidate after having conversations with lawmakers about a run, the congressman’s spokesperson told NBC News Thursday.
“It’s becoming clear Rep. Jordan’s path is narrowing by the hour,” Bergman’s spokesperson said. “We cannot go another day without a Speaker. He simply doesn’t have the votes — we need to have a frank discussion as a conference about a path forward.”
The House has now been without an elected speaker for more than two weeks, which has left the lower chamber paralyzed and unable to pass legislation.
The leadership vacuum in the House has grown critical as the war between Israel and Hamas threatens to escalate into a broader regional conflagration.
The House is unable to act on President Joe Biden’s call for Congress to pass emergency security assistance for Israel, and Ukraine, until the lower chamber elects a speaker.
Congress also needs to pass spending legislation by Nov. 17 to avoid a government shutdown.
Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, who formally nominated Jordan for the second ballot Wednesday, blamed the current chaos on the Republican faction, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, that ousted McCarthy.
“Those who did this, whether intentionally or unintentionally, were going to put the Congress in a state of chaos and the country into a state of uncertainty,” Cole said in his nomination speech before the House.
“The last two weeks have vindicated that observation,” the Oklahoman said.