On the 20th Day of Leadership Vacuum, Lesser-Known Republicans Seek Trump’s Endorsement in Quest for Speakership

by Joshua Brown
House Speaker Leadership Vacuum in Republican Party

As the 20th day without a Speaker of the House dawned, the Republican Party faced renewed challenges on Monday, groping for direction and unity as they struggled with internal questions about leadership, legislative agenda, and the path to restoring congressional functionality.

Late into the evening, GOP members convened to listen to abbreviated addresses from congressmen vying for the speaker’s position, although none appear to be a definitive choice for the role. The field has narrowed to eight candidates after one, Rep. Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania, withdrew his candidacy. In private sessions, these candidates made succinct appeals to their peers before internal party ballots are cast.

Topping the list of contenders is Minnesota’s Rep. Tom Emmer, but it seems unlikely that he or any other less-prominent Republicans will swiftly garner the requisite majority. Instead, many are turning to former President Donald Trump for endorsement before the forthcoming internal elections.

Donald Trump, currently leading the GOP pack for the 2024 presidential race and recently registering for New Hampshire’s primary, indicated that numerous candidates have contacted him for support. Regarding Emmer, Trump stated, “He telephoned me yesterday to express that he is my biggest supporter.”

Trump minimized the influence of Emmer, the third-ranking House Republican, with whom he has had a turbulent relationship. He portrayed himself as an influential arbiter who holds conversations with “numerous congressmen” desiring his approval.

“Only one entity can truly accomplish this task: Jesus Christ,” he opined.

Since the removal of Kevin McCarthy, House Republicans have consistently held confidential deliberations, spending hours attempting to chart a course forward. Each candidate was allocated two minutes for introductory remarks, followed by a question-and-answer session. A nominee will be selected in a meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

“Clearly, we need to get our affairs in order; no more excuses, it’s time to act,” commented Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., a leader within the conservative caucus.

The earlier enthusiasm that marked the ousting of McCarthy by a faction led by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida has devolved into a grave governance crisis. Internal discord and increasingly acrimonious rivalries are hampering the routine proceedings of Congress.

With a looming deadline of November 17 for passing essential funding legislation, the federal government once again stands at the brink of a shutdown. Concurrently, President Joe Biden has requested a $105 billion aid package aimed at assisting Israel and Ukraine in their respective conflicts, as well as bolstering U.S.-Mexico border security. Various federal programs, including those related to aviation and agriculture, are at risk of expiration if Congress fails to act.

Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas, urged prompt action, stating to reporters, “It’s time to conclude this; the electorate demands resolution.”

However, internecine struggles seem to outweigh any shared sense of urgency. After ousting McCarthy, the GOP further splintered by rejecting Majority Leader Steve Scalise and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan as his potential successors.

Initially instigated over objections to McCarthy’s fiscal leadership, the battle for the speaker’s chair has devolved into a tangled web of political and personal grievances spanning various factions and personalities.

“Does anyone possess the ability to garner sufficient support? I doubt it,” said Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, who has suggested Trump should assume the speaker’s role on multiple occasions.

While Trump has mostly remained a background figure, his influence permeates GOP dynamics. Although he initially undermined Scalise’s candidacy by supporting Jordan, his influence waned when moderate GOP conservatives declined to back the latter.

“Coercion won’t work here; persuasion is the key,” noted Johnson.

With the House in an unprecedented situation, having ousted a sitting speaker for the first time ever, it is currently under the provisional leadership of Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., chairman of the Financial Services Committee.

Meanwhile, in the Senate, Republican leader Mitch McConnell commented, “I’m no expert on the House. My focus is here in the Senate. We hope the House regains its functionality soon.”

For now, Emmer and other candidates aim to rally the fractured Republican majority around their individual bids for leadership. Alongside Emmer and Sessions, other candidates include Rep. Mike Johnson, an amiable lawyer from Louisiana; Rep. Kevin Hern, a former McDonald’s franchise owner; and Rep. Byron Donalds, a Florida freshman closely aligned with Trump.

Intraparty elections are slated for Tuesday. With eight candidates, multiple rounds may be necessary to finalize a nominee, who will then face a floor vote in the House.

To quell ongoing disputes, some GOP members are insisting that candidates pledge their support to whomever is ultimately nominated, as mandated by the rules of the Republican majority.

Contributions to this report were made by Stephen Groves, Jill Colvin, Farnoush Amiri, Kevin Freking, and Holly Ramer in Concord, New Hampshire.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about House Speaker Leadership Vacuum in Republican Party

What is the central issue facing the Republican Party in the House of Representatives?

The central issue is the leadership vacuum in the Speaker of the House position. The party is struggling with internal divisions and lacks a clear candidate who can secure a majority of support to become the next Speaker.

Who are some of the key figures involved in this leadership crisis?

Key figures include Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, Rep. Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania (who has dropped out), and former President Donald Trump, who is considered an influential arbiter in the selection process. Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., is serving as the nominal interim Speaker pro tempore.

What role is Donald Trump playing in the selection of the next Speaker?

Donald Trump is positioned as a potential kingmaker, with many candidates seeking his endorsement ahead of internal party elections. His influence, however, appears to be limited as he failed to secure the nomination for Jim Jordan.

How are the Republicans planning to move forward?

An internal party election is scheduled for Tuesday, during which a nominee for the Speaker position will be selected. Given that there are eight candidates, multiple voting rounds may be necessary.

Is this leadership vacuum affecting legislation and governance?

Yes, the absence of stable leadership has already affected the regular proceedings of Congress and poses risks such as a potential federal government shutdown. It has also complicated matters like passing essential funding legislation and responding to President Joe Biden’s aid requests.

What are the wider implications of this leadership struggle?

The struggle exposes deep divisions within the Republican Party, affecting its ability to legislate and govern effectively. It also casts a shadow over the GOP’s preparation for the 2024 presidential race.

Are there any emergency measures in place due to the absence of a Speaker?

Currently, Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., is serving as the nominal interim Speaker pro tempore, a position created as an emergency measure following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

What is the sentiment within the Republican caucus about resolving this issue?

There is a sense of urgency among some members, like Rep. Pat Fallon and Rep. Dusty Johnson, to resolve the issue swiftly. However, factional rivalries seem to be overriding this urgency.

What prompted the ouster of the previous Speaker, Kevin McCarthy?

Kevin McCarthy was ousted due to dissatisfaction over his leadership, particularly his handling of fiscal matters, which led to a faction of hardline Republicans initiating his removal.

Has a situation like this ever happened before in the House of Representatives?

No, this is unprecedented. The House has never before ousted a sitting Speaker, leading to such a protracted leadership vacuum.

More about House Speaker Leadership Vacuum in Republican Party

  • Leadership Crisis in Republican Party
  • Role of Donald Trump in Republican Politics
  • History of Speaker of the House in U.S. Congress
  • Internal Divisions Within the Republican Party
  • The Procedure for Electing a New House Speaker
  • Impact of Congressional Dysfunction on Legislation
  • Rep. Patrick McHenry’s Interim Role
  • Kevin McCarthy’s Ouster Explained
  • The Republican Party and the 2024 Presidential Race
  • Emergency Measures in U.S. Congress

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Sara Williams October 25, 2023 - 7:59 pm

Never a dull moment in politics these days. This GOP leadership crisis is something else. Can they get it together before 2024?

Mike O'Donnell October 26, 2023 - 1:15 am

so the House has never been here before, huh? Ousting their own speaker? Wonder what this means for future politics.

Emily Clark October 26, 2023 - 4:49 am

This is just symptomatic of the broader divisions in the Republican party. No one wants to compromise and they are all seeking Trump’s endorsement, like that’s gonna solve anything.

John Smith October 26, 2023 - 5:37 am

Wow, the GOP is really in a mess right now. Can’t even figure out who should be their leader in the house. What a circus!

Karen Lee October 26, 2023 - 5:52 am

eight candidates and still no clear winner? Talk about indecisiveness. And why are they all running to Trump for endorsement? Havent they learned anything?

Tim Roberts October 26, 2023 - 6:38 am

Could this be any more complicated? Internal fights, Trump in the mix but not really, and now federal programs are at risk. Get it together, folks.

Nancy Ortiz October 26, 2023 - 7:54 am

It’s funny, the text says they retreated privately like most days. Most days? Seriously? How long is this gonna go on for?

Alex Turner October 26, 2023 - 11:15 am

Desperate times call for desperate measures but this is next level. They’re literally eating their own at this point.

Rachel Greene October 26, 2023 - 11:40 am

I think its interesting how McConnell is staying outta this. Smart move? He says he’s got his hands full in the Senate. Probably doesn’t wanna touch this with a ten foot pole.

Samuel Adams October 26, 2023 - 1:37 pm

Rep. Patrick McHenry must be having the time of his life as interim speaker. What a position to be in during such a tumultuous time.


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