House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, leaves his office in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill on Oct. 16, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan swayed several Republican opponents to his side Monday, moving the Ohio Republican closer to the speaker’s gavel ahead of a crucial Tuesday afternoon vote.
Jordan, who has been a polarizing figure in American politics for much of his time in Congress, will need the backing of nearly all the chamber’s 221 GOP lawmakers in order to hold the highest office in Congress, next in the presidential line of succession after the vice president.
The Ohio congressman and his allies seemed confident Monday evening that he would reach that benchmark after pressing members of the House GOP throughout the weekend, though they didn’t know if that would happen ahead of the first vote. Multiple votes could be held to elect a speaker, as happened in January when Kevin McCarthy won after 15 ballots.
Jordan said following a two-hour closed door conference meeting Monday night that the House must elect a speaker, in part, so the chamber can begin moving legislation again.
“I felt good walking into the conference. I feel even better now,” Jordan said. “We’ve got a few more people we want to talk to, listen to and then we’ll have the vote tomorrow.”
But some members complained of the pressure they faced. Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana wouldn’t say Monday night whether she would support Jordan.
“I truly believe we shouldn’t have concluded the conference and (should) deliberate further, not try to push people on the floor before we find consensus,” Spartz said. “I truly believe these intimidation techniques and tyranny are not acceptable.”
Several other Republicans said Monday after the meeting they are firmly opposed to Jordan becoming speaker, including Reps. Ken Buck of Colorado and Mario Díaz-Balart of Florida.
Buck said he has concerns over Jordan’s votes to overturn the electoral results in Pennsylvania and Arizona following the 2020 presidential election.
“I do think that the 20 Republicans who are in Biden districts have a problem if everybody in leadership is saying that the election was stolen,” Buck said. “I think that’s a problem.”
Díaz-Balart said that he would not vote for Jordan and would instead vote for Louisiana’s Steve Scalise, because Scalise won the first nomination vote last week, and therefore the entire party should have voted for him. Scalise withdrew his nomination one day after winning the nomination.
Díaz-Balart also expressed frustration over pressure from his party to vote for Jordan.
“A little bit of advice if anybody is trying to get my vote,” Díaz-Balart said. “The last thing you want to do is try to pressure me because then I close out entirely.”
Greene defends Jordan
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia said she was not concerned about Republicans in districts that Biden won in the 2020 presidential election. She argued that Republican voters support Jordan.
“They couldn’t have won those seats without Republican voters,” she said. “They may be Biden districts, but they aren’t all Biden voters that voted for these Republican members of Congress and so they’re Republican voters, their opinions matter too even if it’s a Biden district.”
Electing Jordan, a founder of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, would mark a significant turnaround from Friday, when more than 50 House Republicans said during a secret ballot they wouldn’t vote for him on the floor.
Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee, however, estimated Monday evening that Jordan’s support deficit had shrunk to about eight.
When asked whether he was confident Jordan would reach the approximately 217 votes needed to win, Burchett said “I’m just confident I’m standing here.”
“It’s looking better of course,” Burchett added.
But Rep. Don Bacon said he wouldn’t support Jordan.
“I respect people with different opinions on this. We need a speaker, we got a world on fire. But I didn’t put us in this, a small group who took out Kevin (McCarthy) and blocked Steve (Scalise) got us in this spot,” the Nebraska Republican said.
Florida’s Rep. John Rutherford told reporters “nothing’s changed” for him and that he only wants to see McCarthy in the speaker’s role.
Jordan acknowledges frustrations
After a weekend of vote wrangling, Jordan urged support for his bid in a “Dear Colleague” letter released Monday where he acknowledged the “frustrations about the treatment of Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise and the events of the past month.”
“The role of a Speaker is to bring all Republicans together. That’s what I intend to do.” Jordan wrote.
“Our goal will be to empower our committees and committee chairs to take the lead on the House’s legislative work through regular order,” Jordan wrote. “This will bring us together to pass responsible legislation to fund our government and support our military.”
Jordan also said he would “tirelessly work to defend and expand our majority and help every Republican member back at home.”
House Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican, said Monday night that Jordan becoming speaker more than nine months into this Congress means he’ll inherit issues that were created earlier this year.
“There are going to be some legitimate questions about the plan.” Perry said. “But I think you’ve got to give him some time to try and be successful. I think that’s appropriate for anybody.”
Jordan picked behind closed doors
House Republicans voted Friday to nominate Jordan for speaker following a tumultuous week that highlighted several of the challenges facing the razor-thin House majority.
Louisiana’s Scalise was nominated for speaker first, but bowed out after just one day as the nominee. Jordan said after losing the first nomination vote that he would back Scalise, though several of his allies refused to support Scalise and a floor vote was never held.
House Republicans on the second ballot voted for Jordan as their nominee over Georgia Rep. Austin Scott, who announced his candidacy shortly before the vote.
After Jordan won the nomination, Republicans held a secret ballot vote to gauge how much support Jordan would receive on the floor. More than 50 Republican lawmakers were opposed to him taking on that role.
By Monday, House Armed Services Chair Mike Rogers and Missouri Rep. Ann Wagner, both of whom were opposed to Jordan becoming speaker last week, came around to supporting his bid for the gavel.
Rogers, of Alabama, wrote on X that he and Jordan “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.”
Wagner said in a written statement that Jordan had allayed her “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.”
Florida Rep. Carlos Gimenez did not move to support Jordan, saying he planned to vote for McCarthy on the floor.
“I will not partake in this despicable coup,” Gimenez wrote on X. “Speaker McCarthy should have never been removed to begin with.”
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