Efforts to Replace Kevin McCarthy Derail, Leaving House Paralyzed and Divided
The Republican Party is facing a deepening leadership crisis in the House, with no clear path to elect a new speaker. After the historic ouster of Kevin McCarthy, an effort to replace him has been derailed by entrenched opposition and deep divisions within the party. This lack of consensus has effectively frozen the chamber at a critical time when major international and domestic crises loom. From Israel’s war against Hamas to a potential government shutdown in mid-November, the House is grappling with a leadership vacuum that could have far-reaching consequences.
Jim Jordan Jumps into Speaker’s Race, but Faces Uphill Battle
All eyes are now on Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio as he enters the speaker’s race. However, Republicans have not immediately coalesced behind Jordan, and he may face the same math problem as his predecessor, Majority Leader Steve Scalise. Despite expressing confidence in securing the 217 votes needed to win the gavel, Jordan has not ruled out dropping out of the race if he fails to reach that threshold by the end of the day. The lack of a clear frontrunner raises questions about how and when the standoff over the speakership will be resolved.
Tom McClintock Announces Intent to Run for Speaker
In a further twist to the Republican leadership crisis, GOP Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia announced his intention to run for speaker. This adds another contender to an already crowded field, further complicating the path to electing a new leader. With multiple candidates vying for the position, the party’s ability to unify behind a single nominee becomes increasingly challenging.
McCarthy Supports Jordan, Calls for Getting Back on Track
Despite his own removal as speaker, Kevin McCarthy has thrown his support behind Jim Jordan. McCarthy believes that Jordan could do an excellent job as the new leader of the House. However, it remains to be seen if Jordan can gather enough support to secure the position. The endorsement from McCarthy could sway some Republicans, but there are already signs of resistance to Jordan’s bid, with several lawmakers expressing their unwillingness to vote for him.
Frustration and Concerns Among House Republicans
The impasse over the speakership has led to growing frustration and concerns among House Republicans. Some lawmakers have expressed their exasperation, with one even remarking that “you could put Jesus Christ up for speaker of the House and he still wouldn’t get 217 votes.” The inability to elect a new speaker has highlighted the power of a small faction of conservatives to sideline the agenda of the majority. With a razor-thin majority, a speaker candidate can only afford to lose four defections and still win, making the support of every member crucial.
Consideration of Expanding Interim Speaker’s Powers
Before Steve Scalise abruptly withdrew from the race, Republicans were already considering expanding the powers of interim Speaker Patrick McHenry of North Carolina. This move would allow the House to pass legislation despite the leadership crisis. However, attempting to expand the powers of the interim speaker would put House Republicans in uncharted legal territory and could face pushback from within the party.
The Republican leadership crisis in the House has left the chamber paralyzed, with no clear path to elect a new speaker. The failure to coalesce behind a candidate has raised concerns about the party’s ability to govern effectively at a time when major crises loom. The entry of Jim Jordan and Tom McClintock into the speaker’s race further muddies the waters, making it even more challenging to reach a resolution. As House Republicans grapple with the impasse, they must find a way to unite and move forward to address pressing issues facing the nation.