Washington in limbo as House marks 15th day without speaker | Inquirer News

Washington in limbo as House marks 15th day without speaker

/ 08:00 AM October 19, 2023

House Lawmakers Work Towards Electing New Speaker On Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 18: U.S. Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL) casts his vote as the House of Representatives holds its second round of voting for a new Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol on October 18, 2023 in Washington, DC. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) failed in his bid to become Speaker of the House on Tuesday after all Democrats and 20 members of his own party declined to vote for him. The House has been without an elected leader since Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was ousted from the speakership on October 4 in a move led by a small group of conservative members of his own party. Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP

Washington, United States — US lawmakers rejected hard-line conservative Jim Jordan’s bid for speaker of the House of Representatives for a second time on Wednesday, as the leadership vacuum paralyzed Washington for a 15th day with no clear resolution in sight.

The lower chamber of Congress has been in a tailspin since Republican speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted by his party’s far right on October 3 — leaving it unable to address a looming government shutdown or war in the Middle East.


Jordan, an acolyte of scandal-engulfed Donald Trump, could only afford to lose four Republican votes, but 22 of his colleagues rejected his candidacy in the second ballot — two more than were against him a day earlier.


The Israel-Hamas conflict, a renewed push for aid to Ukraine and the threat of a government shutdown have dramatically upped the stakes, with Republicans hoping the urgent need for Congress to respond would unite the fractured party.

But Jordan’s centrist colleagues, already wary of his hard-right politics, voiced irritation over a concerted effort to whip extra votes for the 59-year-old former wrestling champion.

“Each day that passes without a speaker of the House is a national security risk,” said Jordan supporter and California Republican David Valadao.

“I voted for the Republican Conference’s nominee for speaker because we must get back to work, and we cannot do that until we have a speaker.”

Jordan’s second defeat compounded the angst over Republican disarray, prompting a growing group of lawmakers — including Valadao — to push for the limited powers of the current, largely ceremonial caretaker speaker to be expanded.

But Jordan showed no signs of dropping out, as his spokesman Russell Dye vowed to reporters that the congressman would “keep going,” with the next round expected on Thursday.


No clear alternative

Jordan’s tally of 199 votes marked the first time in a century that the majority’s nominee had dipped under 200.

The powerful Judiciary Committee chairman will be expected to show significant improvement in the third round of voting, yet the holdouts appear to be dug in.

His Republican opponents met after voting against him for the first time Tuesday and nearly all reaffirmed their objections, with some predicting Jordan would only hemorrhage more support.

The Ohio lawmaker has little of the goodwill among the rank-and-file that his predecessor spent years cultivating, and it is unlikely that he would be allowed the 15 rounds of voting that it took McCarthy to get elected.

Party strategists worry that Jordan going backwards could herald days of further deadlock, as there is no obvious alternative with the support and the profile to corral a party that has become synonymous with division and dysfunction.

“Why run for the mayor of a city that’s just been nuked?” asked online politics outlet Punchbowl News.

There is momentum behind a push to formally appoint caretaker speaker Patrick McHenry for a limited period of two or three months — expanding his purely ceremonial powers so that he can bring legislation to the floor.

Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries did not publicly commit to backing the move as he headed to a party meeting after voting, although he has not ruled it out.

“We had two objectives coming into this meeting. First objective, to stop Jim Jordan… Second objective is to reopen the House,” he said.

But Scott Perry, chairman of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, said empowering McHenry would be “a vote to keep you broke, and Washington broken.”

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

“I told you — no matter what — I won’t vote for the status quo, and I’m keeping my word,” he posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

TAGS: Politics, US House, world news

© Copyright 1997-2024 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.