House Republicans are inching closer to what some refer to as “Plan B” following two unsuccessful votes for Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) as Speaker.
It is now likely that Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina will be formally elected Speaker pro tempore, although his current role as acting Speaker does not give him the ability to move legislation through the chamber.
In Tuesday’s vote, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) received 212 votes, compared to 200 for Jordan; however, 217 votes are needed to secure the gavel. 20 votes were cast for other GOP members such as Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Steve Scalise (R-La.).
“Centrist Republicans and Democrats are once again backchanneling about a possible vote to strengthen McHenry’s abilities to bring legislation to the floor — particularly spending bills, given a Nov. 17 funding deadline — amid the weeks-long impasse in selecting a speaker,” Politico reported.
“They’re pushing a short-term measure that would grant McHenry added powers and could pass the House by majority vote, though they have not coalesced around specific language,” the news outlet added.
On Wednesday, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) introduced a resolution to temporarily empower McHenry. In a letter sent to House colleagues, he stated that “by formally electing him, we as a body give him the power to move legislation to the floor for consideration”.
This resolution would assign McHenry with the elevated role until November 17th or until a new Speaker is appointed, whichever comes first.
“Our focus right now relates not just to any one individual, but to getting the institution reopened. I have respect for Patrick McHenry. I think he is respected on our side of the aisle,” Jeffries said, according to Politico.
He added, “There are a whole host of other Republicans who are respected on all sides of the aisle. Jim Jordan is not one of them.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) fails to win the Speakership on the first ballot.
20 Republicans voted for other candidates while all 212 Democrats supported Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), making the House Minority Leader the top vote-getter. pic.twitter.com/Pi3xjMoZje
— The Recount (@therecount) October 17, 2023
On Wednesday, Jordan lost a second vote for the speakership of the House, leaving many to speculate on his prospects in the face of strong opposition and the House’s lack of progress.
The margin of defeat was larger than it had been on Tuesday. With no speaker, the chamber is facing a precarious situation due to ongoing international disputes and an impending government shutdown next month.
\Jordan reaffirmed his candidacy by saying that the House requires a permanent Republican speaker and rejecting McHenry’s proposal for greater power.
“We got to get a speaker so we can open the House, so I’m going to get there,” he said.
Given the opposition of many Republicans to a resolution granting increased power to McHenry, Democratic support may be necessary for it to pass. Consequently, Democrats may have leverage to negotiate more advantageous terms from Republicans in exchange for their backing.
“We’re gonna keep going. I’ve had great conversations, great discussions with our colleagues,” Jordan said late Tuesday. “No one in our conference wants to see any type of coalition government with Democrats. So we’re going to keep working, and we’re going to get to the votes.”
On Tuesday night, New York Republican Representative Nicole Malliotakis said on Fox News that anyone who claims to know what will happen next is “full of it.” Malliotakis has stated that she will continue voting for Jordan and predicted that his popularity will increase.
“I think there’s some movement, and that’s positive. So the idea is to build consensus, that’s positive, not to jump ship just because it didn’t work in the first round,” she said. “As I see it, he’s the person who can bring the factions together now. If he can’t, quite frankly, then we have bigger problems.”