WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Tuesday failed to elect their designated choice for speaker, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), marking the start of what is expected to be another prolonged and divisive speaker election process.
Among House Republicans present during the vote, 20 voted against Jordan and named alternative candidates, such as former speaker Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.). Scalise received seven votes while McCarthy got six.
Jordan requires at least 217 votes to be elected to the speakership.
Multiple House Republican holdouts have cited Jordan’s extreme positions as a reason for their opposition, with some members also expressing frustration with McCarthy’s ouster two weeks ago.
“The days of ‘Oh, this is our person. Everybody’s just going to rally.’ Those days are over,” Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) told reporters following the vote.
He added that Jordan, whom he voted for on Tuesday, now has the chance to speak with those who stopped him from gaining a majority. Feelings among Republicans in the chamber were “somber,” Donalds said. A spokesperson for Jordan told the media late in the afternoon that the next vote would be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
The first vote came two weeks after McCarthy was ousted from the speakership in an unprecedented move by hard-right Republicans led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).
Following the ouster, House Republicans are still scrambling to install a new speaker, with Jordan and Scalise first announcing their respective candidacies for the vacant position.
During a closed-door vote last Wednesday, House Republicans selected Scalise as their speaker candidate by a margin of 113-99. But the congressman announced just a day later that he was dropping out of the race after he failed to persuade multiple Republican holdouts to support his candidacy.
Jordan, who is 59, was nominated by his party on Friday night, but even then, it was clear he had an uphill battle as more than 50 Republicans said they would vote against Jordan on the House floor. While Jordan did win over some of those opponents by Tuesday, it is far from clear how he will get the votes needed to win the speakership.
Jordan received one more “no” vote than McCarthy did in the first round of voting this January. During the lengthiest speaker election since before the Civil War, McCarthy was eventually elected to the speakership during the 15th ballot round.
Prior to Tuesday’s vote, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) endorsed Jordan on the House floor, calling him an “America-first warrior” and a “fighter.”
“Jim Jordan will be ‘we the people’s’ Speaker for such a time as this,” Stefanik said. “Jim is the voice of the American people who have felt voiceless for far too long.”
Notably, Jordan has never had a bill of his signed into law during his more than 16 years in the House of Representatives.
In response to Stefanik, Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) said Republicans had thrown the House into chaos, as he endorsed minority leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) on the House floor for the speakership. He also called Jordan an “election denier,” criticizing him for his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
“We are talking about someone who has spent his entire career trying to hold our country back,” Aguilar said of Jordan.
No House Democrats voted for Jordan’s election, with all caucus members in session supporting Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’ (D-N.Y.) candidacy.