OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
House Republicans are moving closer to what several call “Plan B” when selecting a Speaker after a vote for House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) failed twice.
According to reports, it seems increasingly likely that the GOP Caucus will formally elect Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina speaker pro tempore. Right now, as acting Speaker, he lacks the authority to move legislation through the chamber, Politico noted.
McHenry presided over the Speaker vote on Tuesday, where House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) received more votes than Jordan, 212-200, though 217 is needed to take the gavel.
Several Republicans voted for other GOP lawmakers, including former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.), for a combined 20 votes.
“Centrist Republicans and Democrats are once again backchanneling about a possible vote to strengthen McHenry’s abilities to bring legislation to the floor — particularly spending bills, given a Nov. 17 funding deadline — amid the weeks-long impasse in selecting a speaker,” Politico reported.
“They’re pushing a short-term measure that would grant McHenry added powers and could pass the House by majority vote, though they have not coalesced around specific language,” the news outlet added.
Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) introduced a resolution on Wednesday to empower McHenry for the short term. “By formally electing him, we as a body give him the power to move legislation to the floor for consideration,” he wrote in a letter to House colleagues.
Under the resolution, McHenry would serve in the elevated role until Nov. 17 or until a new Speaker is named, whichever comes first.
“Our focus right now relates not just to any one individual, but to getting the institution reopened. I have respect for Patrick McHenry. I think he is respected on our side of the aisle,” Jeffries said, according to Politico.
He added, “There are a whole host of other Republicans who are respected on all sides of the aisle. Jim Jordan is not one of them.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) fails to win the Speakership on the first ballot.
20 Republicans voted for other candidates while all 212 Democrats supported Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), making the House Minority Leader the top vote-getter. pic.twitter.com/Pi3xjMoZje
— The Recount (@therecount) October 17, 2023
Jordan lost a second vote for speaker of the House on Wednesday, leaving many to wonder if he has any chance of succeeding in the face of strong opposition and the House’s continued inability to function. He lost the Wednesday vote by a larger margin than on Tuesday.
The chamber is effectively paralyzed in the absence of a speaker, a perilous situation given the ongoing conflict abroad and the looming possibility of a government shutdown next month.
Wednesday morning, Jordan reaffirmed his intention to remain a candidate by saying the House needs a permanent Republican speaker and dismissing the idea of empowering McHenry.
“We got to get a speaker so we can open the House, so I’m going to get there,” he said.
Many Republicans are against a resolution to give more power to McHenry, so it would need Democratic support to pass. As a result, Democrats may be able to negotiate for more favorable terms from Republicans in exchange for their support.
“We’re gonna keep going. I’ve had great conversations, great discussions with our colleagues,” Jordan said late Tuesday. “No one in our conference wants to see any type of coalition government with Democrats. So we’re going to keep working, and we’re going to get to the votes.”
On Tuesday night, New York Republican Representative Nicole Malliotakis said on Fox News that anyone who claims to know what will happen next is “full of it.” Malliotakis has stated that she will continue voting for Jordan and predicted that his popularity will increase.
“I think there’s some movement, and that’s positive. So the idea is to build consensus, that’s positive, not to jump ship just because it didn’t work in the first round,” she said. “As I see it, he’s the person who can bring the factions together now. If he can’t, quite frankly, then we have bigger problems.”