Hardline conservative Jim Jordan has pledged to persist in his struggling campaign for Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday. This decision came after his fellow Republicans abandoned an alternative plan to allow the leaderless chamber to resume its activities.
Despite losing two previous votes for Speaker this week, Jordan emerged from a lengthy closed-door meeting with fellow Republicans and announced his intention to proceed with a third vote.
“I’m still running for speaker and I plan to go to the floor and get the votes and win this race,” Jordan told reporters, adding that he wanted to talk to some of the more than 20 fellow Republicans who have voted against him.
He then met with some of the holdouts, though Jordan opponents emerged from the meeting saying their minds had not been changed.
“We all told him that we’re solid no’s. That was the discussion,” Republican Representative Vern Buchanan told reporters. “Now he’s got a decision to make.”
Jordan told reporters as he left that meeting: “We had a good discussion.”
It was not clear when the House would vote again on a speaker. The chamber has been at a standstill since October 3, when a small group of Republicans ousted Kevin McCarthy from the speaker’s chair, leaving lawmakers unable to respond to eruption of war in the Middle East and a possible partial government shutdown less than a month away.
According to lawmakers in the meeting earlier in the day, Jordan had suggested that Republicans vote to extend the authority of Representative Patrick McHenry, who is serving as acting speaker, effectively pausing his campaign for the gavel.
House Democrats and the White House have said they are open to that idea, but many Republicans rejected it. “At this point, we’re not going to have any kind of other resolution on this,” said Republican Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer.
The House’s leadership vacuum has prevented Congress from acting on urgent legislative business.
Democratic President Joe Biden is expected to ask Congress in a primetime Thursday night speech to approve as much as $60 billion for Ukraine and $10 billion for Israel.
Jordan in two votes this week failed to secure the 217 votes needed to claim the speaker’s gavel as he has faced opposition from Democrats and more than 20 of his fellow Republicans.
He told fellow Republicans on Thursday that he would drop out of the speaker’s race if his opponents were unmoved after talking with him, two lawmakers said.
‘Bully as the speaker’
Republicans who have voted against Jordan the first two times have predicted he will also fail on a third vote. They cited differences on taxes and spending and accuse him of undercutting the leadership bid of No. 2 House Republican Steve Scalise last week. Others have objected to harassing phone calls and even death threats from his supporters.
One of those, Representative Drew Ferguson, said in a statement on Thursday: “The House Republican Conference does not need a bully as the speaker.”
The prolonged leadership battle has laid bare divisions among Republicans who control the chamber by a narrow 221-212 margin. Investors say the turmoil on Capitol Hill is also contributing to market volatility.
McCarthy was ousted after reaching a deal with Democrats on Sept. 30 to keep the government open. Hardline Republicans objected to his move to pass a bill that needed Democratic votes to get over the line.
While McCarthy was the first speaker in US history to be voted out by his caucus, the last two Republicans to hold the job also left office early under pressure from the right.
Jordan has made his name in Washington as a leader of a hard-right faction that has exercised enormous influence this year, bringing Washington to the edge of default and the brink of a government shutdown in a budget-cutting drive that has had limited success so far.
His backers say he would be an effective fighter for conservative policies in a town where Democrats control the Senate and the White House.
Unlike other leaders in Congress, Jordan built his profile as an uncompromising advocate for the party’s right wing, clashing with Republicans and Democrats alike.
He encouraged government shutdowns in 2013 and 2018 and was a “significant player” in Trump’s attempts to overturn Biden’s 2020 election win, according to a congressional investigation.
He is helping to lead an impeachment investigation of Biden that has so far failed to find evidence of wrongdoing by the president.