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Scalise and Jordan vie to replace McCarthy in House speaker race

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana and ranking member of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, right, speaks with Representative Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, while arriving to a hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. Powell said inflation had picked up but should move back toward the U.S. central bank’s 2% target once supply imbalances resolve. Photographer: Graeme Jennings/Washington Examiner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Graeme Jennings | Bloomberg | Getty Images

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan will make their case to Republican lawmakers Tuesday evening as the party struggles to coalesce around a candidate for speaker of the House of Representatives.

“This is a dangerous world right now,” Scalise said after leaving a Republican conference meeting Monday evening. “The House needs to get back to work. That means we’ve got to elect a speaker and we saw strong resolve to make sure we can come together quickly.”

Scalise and Jordan will address the House GOP during a candidate forum at 5 p.m. this evening. Republican lawmakers will hold a vote Wednesday morning to select a candidate for speaker, which will then face a full floor vote.

It is unclear whether Scalise or Jordan can secure the 217 votes needed to win the speakership on the House floor. Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California faced a grueling 15 ballots before he was elected speaker in January.

The war in Israel and the Gaza Strip added urgency to the search for a candidate to replace McCarthy, who was ousted as speaker by a faction of Republicans a week ago.

The U.S. also faces a potential government shutdown if spending legislation is not passed by Nov. 17. McCarthy’s decision to work with Democrats to fund the government last month is what ultimately led to his ouster by a faction of eight Republicans led by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.

The leadership void in the House has raised concern in Washington that Congress will be unable to pass security assistance for Israel if the speaker race drags on.

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that his administration will ask Congress to take “urgent action” to fund the national security needs of U.S. partners in the wake of terrorist attacks by Hamas on Israel.

A senior Biden administration official told reporters over the weekend that the lack of a duly elected House speaker has created “a unique situation we’re going to have to work through.”

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, and Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-New York, have said they plan to introduce legislation to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system

Scalise and Jordan have both voiced unequivocal support for Israel in the wake of the devastating weekend surprise attack by Hamas on Israeli towns that border Gaza.

Scalise said Monday that House Republicans needed to “get back on track” after McCarthy’s ouster exposed deep divisions between hard-right Republicans led by Gaetz and more centrist members.

McCarthy has expressed skepticism that the House will elect a speaker this week: “I don’t know if that happens quickly,” the California Republican told Fox News over the weekend.

McCarthy said he would be open to running for speaker again in an interview on a conservative talk show Monday: “Whatever the conference wants, I will do,” he said.

Rep. Steve Womack, R-Arkansas, said several Republican lawmakers mentioned nominating McCarthy again during the party’s Monday evening conference meeting.

“There are there are a couple of members that spoke up and are still in the camp of not letting the 4% dictate the outcome that we saw on Tuesday,” Womack said, referring to McCarthy’s ouster.

Paul Ryan, a former speaker of the House, told CNBC he doesn’t see a path forward for McCarthy.

“I don’t know if these eight nihilists are going to reverse their position or if the Democrats would reverse theirs,” Ryan said of the Gaetz faction.

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