For the second time in 24 hours, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) has failed to win the House speakership in a floor vote, pushing the right-wing leader’s ambitions to the brink and bringing lawmakers closer to empowering an interim speaker after two weeks of legislative paralysis.
On Wednesday, 22 Republicans went against Jordan, putting his support at 198 votes, well short of the 217 needed to claim the gavel.
Troublingly for Jordan, he won fewer votes in the second round than he did in the first, when 20 GOP lawmakers cast votes for seven other candidates, none of whom were in the running.
While four lawmakers who supported Jordan in the first round came out against him in the second, only two Republicans who voted against him on Tuesday, Reps. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and Victoria Spartz (R-IN), fell into the Jordan column on Wednesday.
The House’s next move was unclear immediately after the vote. But with Jordan still clearly far removed from victory, and no obvious Republican to step up and challenge him, momentum toward a bipartisan resolution—even a short-term one—may reach critical mass today.
A group of Republican lawmakers has signaled they will push for a vote as soon as Wednesday afternoon to grant expanded powers to Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), who is currently serving as a temporary caretaker speaker with limited powers.
“If Jim can’t get the votes, then we need to get back to work,” said Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY), a Jordan opponent who did not change his vote on Wednesday. He supports giving authority to McHenry “so we can do the work we were sent here to do.”
With lawmakers in both parties anxious to avoid a government shutdown on Nov. 17, as well as provide aid to Ukraine and Israel, Democrats could easily provide enough votes to give McHenry temporary authority to address those issues. The Financial Services Committee chairman, though an ally of party leadership, is respected on the Democratic side of the aisle.
Team Jordan, meanwhile, clearly wants to keep voting and applying pressure to the holdouts until they relent, like Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) did in January to win the Speaker’s gavel. Jordan himself told reporters before the Wednesday vote that he would welcome a vote on legislation to elevate McHenry, in hopes of defeating it.
“My hope would be that he would make progress this morning, but you’re seeing the swamp cartel fighting against a grassroots conservative and fighting against the wishes of Republican voters in some quarters across the country,” said Rep. Bob Good (R-VA), amplifying the right-wing movement arguments for Jordan.
“I don’t think anyone else can get the 200 that he got,” Good said, referring to the number of votes Jordan won on Tuesday. “I think it’s only a matter of time before people coalesce around him. I don’t think there’s an appetite for this being extended unnecessarily.”
But Jordan’s own allies even telegraphed his failed vote ahead of time, in hopes of managing expectations.
“Just so there’s no surprises: Jordan will likely have FEWER votes today than yesterday—as I expected,” tweeted Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, which forms Jordan’s base of support.
“This is the fight—which Jim Jordan represents—to end the status quo, and it ain’t easy,” he wrote. “Stay strong and keep praying.”
But Jordan, the architect of the modern day GOP’s hardline tactics, lacks the support and goodwill that enabled McCarthy to survive those votes. His tactics in this race, such as maneuvering around Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) and leveraging the anger of a fired-up GOP base to pressure holdouts, have rubbed many members the wrong way.
Many Republicans were increasingly dumbstruck that the far-right led coup to remove McCarthy—for allegedly being a swampy establishment pushover—could soon result in a replacement supported by Democrats, even a temporary one.
But some Democrats indicated that their support would not come without serious concessions from the GOP.
“I still think that if progressive Democrats are being asked to bail the Republicans out of their own dysfunction,” said Rep. Greg Casar (D-TX), “then there has to be real enforceable protections for the American people from shutdowns and from extreme right wing policies.”
One senior GOP aide invoked Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), the ringleader of the effort, and Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT), a close ally, in lamenting the situation.
“It would really be something if Gaetz and Rosendale’s coup against McCarthy results in a coalition government with Democrats,” the aide said.