Why is Republican Jim Jordan’s bid for Speaker of the House being blocked by moderates in his party?
Moderate and establishment Republicans in the House gathered this week as the main opposition to Rep. Jim Jordan’s ascension to Speaker of the House. It is the latest development in what has become a weeks-long battle between conservatives over who will lead the chamber and lift the paralysis that has afflicted half of Congress.
The dynamic facing Jordan, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who built a national image as a hard-liner and firebrand, is the opposite of the ordeal of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, when a small group of Republicans — some of whom were close allies of Jordan — voted to pull his gavel earlier. from this month, even as Jordan and others continue to urge support for McCarthy.
Since then, the House of Representatives has not had a speaker.
Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-S.C., is serving in an interim role as a series of Republican leaders have been tapped as the potential next speaker — all to no avail. Jordan has lost two votes so far, including Wednesday morning when 22 other GOP members voted against him.
Several anti-Jordan lawmakers, with more centrist or good-faith voting records, expressed repeated frustrations about his bid for speaker, and expressed concerns about Jordan’s elevation given his past, including his baseless attacks on the results of the 2017 presidential election. 2020 and his roles. In past government shutdowns over policy objections.
Jordan’s critics have also highlighted what they call a pressure campaign by his supporters on and off Capitol Hill to try to get them to change their minds.
“House of Cards stuff has been written all over it, and I think the American people are tired of watching this fiasco unfold,” Rep. Steve Womack, R-Arkansas, said Monday before voting against Jordan twice between Tuesday and Wednesday. .
Many of Jordan’s critics also criticized the move to oust McCarthy by a handful of dissidents led by Rep. Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida. Choosing someone like Jordan, a founding member of the hardline House Freedom Caucus, would set a bad precedent in terms of being able to run the entire conference, these critics said.
That frustration worsened after Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-Los Angeles, failed in his bid to replace McCarthy. House Republicans had voted 113-99 in a special ballot last week to nominate Scalise over Jordan, but it quickly became clear that Scalise would not be able to win over enough other Republicans to get the 217 votes he needed on the House floor. .
Speaking with reporters after withdrawing his bid for speaker, Scalise noted that “there are still some people out there who have their own agendas.”
Nebraska Republican Rep. Don Bacon, who voted twice against Jordan, told reporters on Tuesday that he “can’t get past the fact that a small group in our conference broke the rules to get rid of Kevin, and then banned Steve.”
“You don’t have a process where I play by the rules and these other people can’t, so they get what they want,” Bacon said. “This is not America.”
He also said he and others were turned away from Jordan after Ohio allies, both lawmakers and media figures like Fox News’ Sean Hannity, were seen as trying to convince opponents of Jordan to vote for him. These efforts reportedly went so far as to target family members of lawmakers: Bacon told reporters that his wife received text messages about voting for speaker.
“It made us angry, and it backfired,” Bacon said Wednesday on Newsmax. “Maybe this might work with some guys. But someone like me… wins us over with a logical argument. You’ll have to convince us. Threatening us doesn’t work.”
Some Jordan skeptics represent swing districts, such as districts where President Joe Biden won in 2020 and where support for Jordan could be anathema to the more centrist voters they represent — though such opposition could also generate primaries from other Republicans who could That puts them at risk as well.
In a statement after Wednesday’s vote, Texas Rep. Kay Granger, the Republican chair of the influential House Appropriations Committee, appeared to compare Jordan and Scalise, whom she described as an “honorable man.”
Granger has twice voted for Scalise instead of Jordan in speaker votes thus far.
“Intimidation and threats will not change my position,” she said on Wednesday.
Other critics said their opposition was fueled by ideology.
Jordan recently opposed increasing aid to Ukraine in its defense against the Russian invasion, a bipartisan priority in most of Washington, but opposed by some conservatives who say the money would be better spent at home. Jordan has also been a vocal defender of former President Donald Trump’s claims of election fraud and a major supporter of voting against certifying the 2020 Electoral College results in 2021.
“At some point, if Jim is going to lead this caucus, during a presidential election cycle, especially a presidential election year, with primaries and caucuses all over the country, he’s going to have to come out strong and say Donald Trump didn’t win.” Buck also voted against Jordan, Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., another member of the House Freedom Caucus, told ABC News on Monday.
Despite this persistent opposition, Jordan turned on several members, including Rep. Ann Wagner, Republican of Missouri, who declined support after having what she said were positive conversations with him.
“Jim Jordan is our caucus nominee, and I will support his nomination for Speaker of the House,” she said in a statement early Monday, when optimism seemed high among Jordan’s supporters.
Jordan insisted that he plans to continue his campaign.
“We will continue to work and we will get the votes,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
However, the inability to elect a speaker — and thus move any legislation through the chamber, including bills related to government funding to prevent another shutdown — is raising concern among Republicans.
Republicans may hold a closed-door meeting on Wednesday in the wake of a second failed vote for House Speaker Jordan, sources told ABC News.
“After two weeks without a Speaker of the House and without a clear nominee with 217 votes in the Republican Conference, it is time to consider other viable options,” said Ohio Republican Representative David Joyce, who voted for Jordan on Tuesday and Wednesday. He said in a statement on Wednesday morning. “By empowering Patrick McHenry as interim president we can shepherd our ally Israel until a new president is elected.”
ABC News’ Katherine Faulders and John Parkinson contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on abcnews.go.com