It’s been nearly three weeks since eight Republicans lawmakers ousted Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as House speaker, and since then the GOP conference has not been able to find a new leader.
The search for the next House speaker
End of carousel
Over the last two weeks, the two top candidates to replace McCarthy — Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Steve Scalise (R-La.) — failed to gather enough support among their GOP colleagues to successfully win the speakership in House floor votes. Scalise, the first of the two to be nominated speaker, did not bring his nomination to the floor, aware that he would not be able to get majority support in the full chamber. Jordan brought his candidacy to the floor three times. Each time, he lost more support from fellow Republicans.
The search for a speaker continues this week as Republicans try to choose among nine candidates, with the goal of getting a speaker-designate to the floor once again. Democrats, meanwhile, are widely expected to continue nominating and voting for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) as speaker.
All this is happening as Congress inches closer to a key deadline: The government will run out of funds in mid-November and shut down if the House and Senate do not pass a number of appropriations bills. Republicans have virtually frozen activity on the House floor for almost three weeks over their inability to choose a new leader.
Nine House Republicans are running. They are: Reps. Tom Emmer (Minn.), Kevin Hern (Okla.), Pete Sessions (Tex.), Austin Scott (Ga.), Byron Donalds (Fla.), Jack Bergman (Mich.), Mike Johnson (La.), Dan Meuser (Pa.) and Gary Palmer (Ala.).
You can read more about them here.
The nine candidates are expected to make their pitches to the GOP conference on Monday during a closed-door meeting at 6:30 p.m. Eastern. During this candidate forum — run by the office of Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the House Republican Conference chairwoman — lawmakers are also expected to continue to air their grievances over the process and plot out where their party should go next.
A conference-wide, closed-door vote on the next speaker-designate will probably happen Tuesday morning at around 9 a.m.
To win the vote in conference, a candidate must receive 50 percent of the vote, plus one. With nine Republicans running, it could take awhile to coalesce around a single candidate.
If no candidate gets a majority on the first ballot, the lawmaker with the fewest votes will be dropped and the process repeats itself until someone prevails.
To win the speakership, a candidate has to win a simple majority of the members in the full House. If every member of the current Congress is present the day of the floor vote, that means the candidate must receive 217 votes.
The earliest the House could vote on a speaker is Tuesday at 11 a.m., when the chamber is next scheduled to meet.
But don’t expect it to be that early, given that Republicans will likely need several rounds in their conference to find their candidate.
The speaker-designate then must coordinate with House Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.) on when to bring their nomination to the floor.
Already, some Republicans are circulating a pledge to support the party’s next nominee.
Rep. Mike Flood (R-Neb.), who last week told reporters he was tired of the lengthy speaker fight, is asking his colleagues to sign a unity pledge in which they promise to vote for the speaker-designate in the next floor vote.
“House Republicans need to elect a Speaker as soon as possible in order to return to work on behalf of the American people,” reads the pledge. “It is time to put politics and personalities aside and unite behind the next Republican Conference choice for Speaker.”
According to a Flood spokeswoman, a “growing number” of House Republicans — including speaker candidates Bergman, Hern, Johnson, Meuser, Scott, and Sessions — have already signed the pledge.
It’s not clear if any of the eight House Republicans who voted to remove McCarthy from the speakership will get behind the pledge. On Friday, seven of the eight signed a letter saying they’re willing to accept censure, suspension, or removal from the conference for their actions, as long as the party supported Jordan for speaker — an effort that failed.
Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.), one of the eight, on Monday shared a statement from the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus demanding that leadership keep Republicans in Washington until this situation is settled and a new speaker is named.
“We must proceed with all possible speed and determination,” the statement reads.
Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.), another of the eight, told Fox Business on Monday morning that he wishes “we could have resolved it sooner.”
“We have a very deep bench. Every one of those nine members would be a step up and I believe would be a great leader,” he said.