Republican-Led US House Rejects Trump Ally For Speaker

Jordan, who is backed by scandal-engulfed former president Donald Trump, was defeated by 20 Republicans who joined every Democrat to deny him the gavel.


Jim Jordan
Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, listens in the House Chamber at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on October 17, 2023. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)

 

US lawmakers rejected hard-line conservative Jim Jordan’s bid for speaker of the House of Representatives in the first round of voting Tuesday, entrenching a stalemate that has paralyzed Washington for two weeks.

The lower chamber of Congress has been at a standstill since Republican speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted by his own party on October 3 — unable to address a looming government shutdown or war in the Middle East.

Jordan, who is backed by scandal-engulfed former president Donald Trump, was defeated by 20 Republicans who joined every Democrat to deny him the gavel.

The powerful Judiciary Committee chairman had voiced confidence that he would be able to win a majority, and announced after his defeat that he intended to go back to the floor for a second try, although no timetable was announced.

Jordan’s tally of 200 votes was three fewer than McCarthy achieved on his first of 15 tries to win the speakership in January, and 10 fewer than the vote that ousted him.

But Scott Perry, chairman of the hard right House Freedom Caucus that Jordan helped launch, said he was “pretty confident” the Ohio congressman could secure the gavel.

“I feel like Jim Jordan is an NCAA champion wrestler who’s wrestled a lot of rounds,” Perry told reporters, in a nod to Jordan’s college sporting achievements.

“I think he can go the distance.”

House Republicans have a razor-thin majority, meaning that Jordan will likely be able to lose four colleagues at most in each round of voting, with Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries poised to receive the full Democratic endorsement every time.

Some Republicans are wary of what they see as Jordan’s scorched earth approach to politics, while a handful have bristled over the intense pressure tactics of his backers.

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 ‘Bad feelings’ 

Whoever gets the job will be under immediate pressure to lead support for Israel in its war with Hamas, renew US aid for Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invasion and extend the US budget or face a damaging government shutdown next month.

The House has been paralyzed since McCarthy’s ouster earlier this month in part over his decision to deal with the Democrats on avoiding an earlier government funding deadline.

Jordan, a fierce critic of House leadership for much of his career who has never authored a bill that got signed into law, is known more for his political counter-punching than his legislative record.

The former wrestling champion and Ohio State University coach has been dogged by allegations, which he denies, that he turned a blind eye to sexual abuse of student wrestlers by a team doctor.

With Republicans capturing their slim majority in the House in 2022, he snagged the powerful role of judiciary chairman and is leading an aggressive impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden.

“I think Jim Jordan will be a great speaker,” Trump said outside a courthouse in New York as he attended his civil trial for fraud.

“I think he’s going to have the votes soon, if not today over the next day or two.”

New York congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis said the 20 dissenters who refused to back Jordan were “just as complicit” for the chaos as the eight who agitated McCarthy’s dismissal.

“The question is now how do we unite around one candidate,” she told reporters.

“Because obviously it has created a lot of rifts in the conference, a lot of bad feelings and we do need to repair those things.”

AFP