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Jim Jordan’s House Speaker bid gains fresh momentum

US Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) speaks to members of the media at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on October 4, 2023. 

Saul Loeb | Afp | Getty Images

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio rallied fresh support Monday for his bid to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives, as his nomination gained steam after several Republican holdouts publicly lined up behind the Judiciary Committee chairman.

Jordan faces a crucial vote in the House Tuesday at noon. He needs 217 GOP votes in the closely divided chamber to secure the gavel.

The renewed momentum came at a crucial moment for Jordan, whose candidacy seemed destined to fail late last week. After winning the internal, closed door nomination vote, Jordan still faced a bloc of around 50 House Republicans who opposed his speakership.

Over the course of the day Monday, Jordan won over several key skeptics who were staunchly opposed to his candidacy as recently as last week. They included the powerful Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, Rep. Ken Calvert of California, and Ann Wagner of Missouri.

Jordan can only afford to lose four Republicans and still win the gavel. As of Monday afternoon, there were at least five who were either opposed to Jordan or skeptical of his candidacy, according to a tally by NBC News.

Rep. Carlos Gimenez of Florida and Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska are both considered hard “no’s” on Jordan. Gimenez said Monday on social media that he planned to cast his ballot for McCarthy, despite the fact that the California Republican isn’t running.

Three more members of the conference are publicly skeptical: Reps. Steve Womack of Arkansas, Mike Lawler of New York and Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida.

The House has been unable to move forward with urgent business for nearly two weeks, after eight Republicans led by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida engineered the ouster of McCarthy as speaker in a historically unprecedented no-confidence vote.

McCarthy also voiced his support for Jordan Monday: “It’s time to get the House out of this tailspin, come together, and get America back on the right track. Jim Jordan can do it,” McCarthy said in a social post.

President Joe Biden called the leadership vacuum in the House “dangerous” in an interview with CBS News that aired Sunday. Biden has asked Congress to pass emergency security assistance for Israel after the devastating Hamas terrorist attacks, as well as for Ukraine as Kyiv wages a grinding counteroffensive against Russia.

Jordan opposes additional security assistance for Ukraine. But Israel is a different story. On Monday, Jordan released a list of actions he said the United States should take to protect its longtime ally in the Middle East.

National security hawks in the Republican Party are also deeply concerned that the House leadership vacuum leaves the U.S. vulnerable during a period of escalating tensions and conflict around the world.

“The biggest threat I see here is that we don’t have a speaker in the chair. We cannot govern. And so our adversaries look at that as weakness,” House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Michael McCaul told NBC News on Thursday.

“The longer this goes on, the more dangerous it is for the United States and the American people,” said the Texas Republican.

The House GOP conference nominated Jordan as their new candidate for speaker after House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana dropped out of the running when it was clear he did not have enough votes.

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Jordan had initially thrown his support behind Scalise’s bid for the gavel. But several of the Ohio congressman’s most outspoken supporters had refused back to the majority leader.

Jordan acknowledged the deep divisions remaining in the conference in a “dear colleague” letter on Monday, and pledged to unite the Republican caucus as speaker.

“We may not always agree on every issue or every bill, and that’s all right. We don’t march in lock-step,” he wrote.

“The differences between us and our Democrat colleagues vastly outweigh our internal divisions,” he added. “The country and our conference cannot afford us attacking each other right now.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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