House Majority Leader Steve Scalise dropped out of the speaker race on Thursday evening, just 30 hours after receiving the Republican nomination. With a government shutdown looming, it is becoming increasingly clear that no sitting House Republican currently has enough votes to become speaker.
Representative Jim Jordan, a Trump ally and Freedom Caucus founder, has already started calling around to secure votes for his nomination after collecting 46 percent of the vote prior to losing to Scalise, reported Punchbowl News’s Jake Sherman. How Jordan—who only received 99 votes from his colleagues earlier this week—will attain the roughly 217 votes needed to take the gavel is unclear.
Jordan’s candidacy will prove an uphill battle, and it’s currently unclear whether he can win over hard-liners who voted for Scalise. Moderates are also wary of backing a Jordan nomination, fearing that the far-right candidate and presidential election denier will hurt their reelection prospects in swing districts.
So far, Representatives Austin Scott, Carlos Gimenez, Mario Diaz Balart, Ann Wagner, and Mike Simpson are among the Republicans who have confirmed they won’t get behind Jordan. Since the Ohio Republican cannot be expected to win any Democratic votes, he will need a nearly unified caucus. He does not have that right now.
Some Republicans, including Representatives Tom McClintock and Carlos Gimenez, are even floating the idea of bringing former Speaker Kevin McCarthy back, an unprecedented move with a slim chance of succeeding, given McCarthy’s lack of sway with several far-right members of the House Republican Caucus.
Yet another possibility remains—House Majority Whip Tom Emmer, who made a bid to be majority leader in the early hours of Scalise’s nomination to speaker, may run for the top position in the House instead, according to The Washington Post.
Amid all the drama, Republicans are also experiencing attendance issues. After nearly two weeks without a speaker, some party members chose not to show up at a Friday morning meeting behind closed doors, reported Punchbowl News.
Scalise’s loss is the latest evidence that the party would rather cannibalize itself than lead the country.