Shortly after, Republicans met behind closed doors to take a secret-ballot vote on whether Jordan should remain the party’s nominee. Of the members in attendance, 112 said he should end his bid. Only 86 GOP lawmakers said Jordan should stick it out.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, speaking to reporters after that GOP-only meeting, said she was disappointed that they find themselves in this position, caused by an Oct. 3 vote to remove Kevin McCarthy as speaker.
Since then, both Jordan and Majority Leader Steve Scalise won the party’s nomination for speaker but failed to get the backing of 217 Republicans that they need to win a floor vote. While the speakership is vacant, the House is unable to pass legislation such as defense aid for Israel or long-term funding of the federal government.
“I think it was a really bad idea that eight Republicans joined with the Democrats to basically strip the gavel out of Kevin McCarthy’s hand and throw it down on the floor and say that we don’t want to govern,” Greene, R-Rome, said in a bid to partially blame the minority party for the majority party’s inability to retain McCarthy and pick a new speaker. “I think that was the wrong thing to do.”
Republicans, including Greene, didn’t back Democratic speakers when they were the minority party, but they have been trying to push the narrative that Democrats were as much to blame as right-wing Republicans for dumping McCarthy. The speaker’s ouster was pushed by Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, and it was made possible by a deal McCarthy made with far-right lawmakers that one member could seek to replace the leader.
Greene said she is unsure who in the Republican caucus can garner the support needed to win. Because Republicans have a narrow majority, no more than four members can vote against the party’s nominee without dooming their bid.
“It’s got to be somebody that really wants it for this conference and with a good plan and a way to get 217 votes,” Greene said.
Members interested in running for speaker have until Sunday to submit their names. There will be a candidate forum on Monday night and then another secret vote on Tuesday to determine who will be the party’s next nominee.
Scott, a Tifton Republican, waged a last-minute challenge to Jordan on Oct. 13 to ensure that Republicans who did not support the far-right lawmaker’s candidacy had an alternate choice. Despite having less than an hour to drum up support, Scott received 81 votes compared with Jordan’s 124.
Still, once Jordan bested Scott, the Georgia congressman vowed to support him on the floor and did so during all three rounds of voting this week. But each time, Jordan received fewer votes than the previous attempt.
Scott released a statement Friday saying he remained loyal to Jordan as promised but was ready to seek the nomination now that Jordan was out of the running.
“If we are going to be the majority we need to act like the majority, and that means we have to do the right things the right way,” Scott wrote.
Rep. Drew Ferguson, who said he and his family received death threats after he cast a vote Tuesday against Jordan, continued his opposition on Friday. And as he entered the closed-door meeting to discuss Jordan’s fate afterward, the Republican from The Rock made it clear that Jordan would never earn back his support.
All other Georgia Republicans backed Jordan, a conservative firebrand and a founder of the House Freedom Caucus. Jordan ultimately received 194 votes during Friday’s floor vote; Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries received 210 votes.
Jordan had indicated during a press conference Friday morning that even if he weren’t successful during a third round of voting he would keep trying, possibly through the weekend. But after he lost both the floor vote and the GOP-only secret ballot afterward, he told colleagues he would step aside.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, said after that GOP-only meeting that he is open to new candidates but believes that the person with the most support was kicked out of office on Oct. 3.
“There’ll be folks going now and through the weekend to put their name in, and we’ll have a forum and we’ll talk and we’ll take a look at issues,” Loudermilk said. “But still right now, Kevin McCarthy is the closest to get 217 of anyone.”
He said he would like lawmakers to spend time discussing new candidates, as well as proposals to give interim Speaker Patrick McHenry power to bring legislation to the floor as a temporary solution.
“When we come back Monday — a little cooler heads — maybe we can look at that from a constitutional and legal standpoint,” he said.
Greene, however, is among the Republicans who don’t think that empowering McHenry is the right way to go. Greene said she wants House Republicans to elect a leader, not keep an interim around for longer.
“I think if Patrick McHenry wants to be speaker, he should submit his name and go through the same process as everybody else,” she said, “instead of just dangling it out there for some kind of temporary deal.”
HOW THEY VOTED ON ELECTING A U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER, ROUND 3
Jim Jordan, R-Ohio
U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Augusta
U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler
U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens
U.S. Rep. Mike Collins, R-Jackson
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome
U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville
U.S. Rep. Rich McCormick, R-Suwanee
U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton
Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana
U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-The Rock
Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York
U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia
U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta
U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta
U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta