Republicans Select Steve Scalise as Nominee for House Speaker in a Bid for Unity Prior to Final Voting

by Ryan Lee
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Republicans Nominate Steve Scalise for House Speaker

On Wednesday, Republicans nominated Representative Steve Scalise for the position of the next House Speaker. The party aims to consolidate its members around Scalise in an upcoming floor vote, following the ousting of Representative Kevin McCarthy from the role.

In confidential voting held within the Capitol, House Republicans opted for Scalise, who currently serves as the majority leader, over Representative Jim Jordan, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, according to legislative insiders. The lawmaker from Louisiana is admired by some for having survived a mass shooting aimed at congress members during a baseball practice several years ago.

The Republican party, which has been in a state of deadlock since McCarthy’s dismissal, will attempt to unify its slender House majority around Scalise. The vote is anticipated to be tightly contested, and Democrats are expected to oppose the Republican candidate.

This is an Update to Breaking News. Earlier AP coverage follows below.

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Washington (AP) – Behind-the-Scenes Meetings Aim to Break GOP Stalemate Over New House Speaker

As Republicans find themselves at an impasse over a new House Speaker, the party majority convened in private on Wednesday to deliberate on a successor to Kevin McCarthy, who was recently ousted. The lawmakers caution that it could take considerable time to unite around a nominee.

The race appears to be a toss-up between Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio. McCarthy, however, has discouraged his GOP colleagues from nominating him for re-election to the position he recently lost.

“The path to securing 218 votes is unclear,” remarked Representative Troy Nehls, R-Texas, referencing the majority vote generally required in the 435-member House for speaker elections. “The week could stretch on.”

The ongoing uncertainty signifies an unprecedented period of political turmoil, causing legislative standstill at a precarious time for both domestic and international affairs. The GOP majority has veered significantly off course from its initial objective of functioning cohesively and governing efficiently, exacerbated by the exceptional removal of a sitting Speaker.

Public opinion remains divided: A quarter of Republicans endorse the fringe group’s decision to remove McCarthy, while three in ten Republicans regard it as a blunder, according to a survey from The Big Big News-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The faction of hardline Republicans responsible for McCarthy’s removal has demonstrated the disproportionate influence a small number of lawmakers can wield in determining leadership succession.

“The available choices leave much to be desired,” noted Representative Ken Buck, R-Colo., who was among those who voted against McCarthy.

Scalise and Jordan are both aggressively lobbying to solidify support, and each has garnered considerable backing that could potentially lead to a majority of the 221 Republicans.

However, it remains uncertain whether either can accumulate sufficient votes from almost all Republican members to offset Democratic opposition during a floor vote in the narrowly divided House. Normally, 218 votes would be the majority required, but currently, two vacant seats reduce that number to 217.

The GOP is keen to avoid a public, disorderly contest on the House floor similar to the one that occurred when McCarthy initially became Speaker.

“The objective is to resolve internal disagreements privately,” stated Representative Kat Cammack, R-Fla. “There is no appetite for a public spectacle.”

One proposal under consideration, by Representative Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., who serves as the interim Speaker pro tempore, is to modify the rules to ensure that a majority vote is obtained before advancing to a full floor vote.

However, barring such rule changes, Republican members are expected to abide by a majority-wins process, in which the candidate with the most votes in the internal caucus ballot would receive unified Republican support on the floor.

Both Scalise and Jordan have indicated their willingness to support the ultimate nominee, yet a significant number of lawmakers remain undecided.

As conservatives from the party’s right wing, neither Scalise nor Jordan is viewed as the natural successor to McCarthy, who lost his position after the passage of legislation that averted a government shutdown.

Scalise, lauded for surviving a 2017 mass shooting at a congressional baseball practice, is currently undergoing treatment for blood cancer. “We will achieve this,” Scalise said upon exiting a candidate forum on Tuesday night. “The House will resume its functions.”

Jordan, a prominent conservative figure closely aligned with former President Donald Trump, especially during attempts to contest the 2020 election results, has also received Trump’s endorsement for Speaker.

Both Scalise and Jordan shared similar stances on fiscal restraint and border security at a recent forum, which are top Republican priorities.

Several lawmakers, including those who played a role in McCarthy’s removal, such as Representative Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., indicated they would support either Scalise or Jordan.

However, moderate Republicans, especially those from politically balanced districts, are reserving judgment. “I continue to support McCarthy,” said Representative David Valadao, whose California district is geographically close to McCarthy’s.

“In the end, the focus should be on serving the American public effectively,” McCarthy added.

For the time being, Patrick McHenry remains the acting authority, a role he is not keen to expand beyond his interim responsibilities, which were implemented to ensure governmental continuity following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

As the search for a new Speaker continues, there seems little likelihood of McHenry’s temporary authority being extended.

Contributions to this report were made by Big Big News writers Farnoush Amiri and Stephen Groves.

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