Steve Scalise Abandons Campaign for House Speaker After Failing to Secure Necessary Support

by Madison Thomas
Steve Scalise Withdraws

Late last Thursday, Republican Steve Scalise withdrew his candidacy for the role of House Speaker, exacerbating the turmoil within the GOP majority as the legislative chamber remains paralyzed. Scalise made the announcement to fellow GOP members during a confidential meeting, explicitly refraining from endorsing any other candidate, including his primary competitor, Rep. Jim Jordan, Chair of the Judiciary Committee and a candidate previously supported by Donald Trump. Jordan had already indicated that he would no longer pursue the Speaker’s role.

The future remains uncertain for the House of Representatives, which is virtually at a standstill as Republicans grapple with selecting a new Speaker following the removal of Kevin McCarthy. Scalise, who hails from Louisiana, stated, “The Republican majority still has to come together; it’s not there yet.” Despite concerted efforts to amass the requisite votes after receiving the nomination from a majority of GOP members, it became clear that no amount of behind-the-scenes negotiations would change the minds of those steadfast in their refusal to back him.

Scalise emphasized the need for unity within the party, stating, “We must set aside individual agendas and concentrate on what the nation requires.” When questioned about his support for Jordan, Scalise remarked that the focus should be on individuals who prioritize the country’s needs over their personal interests. Although he had hoped for swift resolution, Scalise acknowledged that a decision would not be forthcoming in the immediate future.

The ongoing impasse has heightened frustrations and lost Republicans yet another day without a Speaker. The standoff has also led to divisions among hardline Republicans, many influenced by Donald Trump, who remain resolute in their search for McCarthy’s replacement. McCarthy, however, suggested that Scalise would retain his role as Majority Leader while advising his colleagues to resolve their internal issues.

The lack of a Speaker has left the House in a state of paralysis for two weeks, ratcheting up political pressure on Republicans to regain majority control and govern effectively. This is especially crucial given the looming possibility of a government shutdown and other urgent legislative needs, such as bipartisan resolutions supporting Israel in its conflict with Hamas.

The current deadlock mirrors the situation at the beginning of the year, with McCarthy then facing resistance from another faction of far-right members. Although the vote count is even more challenging this time, Scalise, who survived a shooting in 2017, fell short in the private GOP vote by 113-99, contrary to McCarthy’s claim that he would garner 150 votes behind closed doors. To win the Speaker’s role in a floor fight with Democrats, Scalise would have needed 217 votes, a difficult feat in a House with a narrow 221-212 divide.

Democrats, growing increasingly exasperated, have urged Republicans to resolve their internal strife, cautioning that global attention is focused on their actions. The stalled proceedings have left Congress inactive, with GOP members spending a second day in private meetings debating but failing to coalesce around a nominee.

Amidst this turmoil, Jordan, a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus and a Trump-backed candidate, has withdrawn his candidacy but also failed to unify the party. Other hardliners have pledged their allegiance to various candidates, adding to the chaos. Adding another layer of complexity, former President Trump discussed Scalise’s health challenges—particularly his battle with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer—indicating the difficulties in resolving the leadership vacuum.

In summary, the Republicans find themselves in a critical deadlock that requires immediate attention, not just to fill the leadership vacuum but also to address urgent legislative issues facing the nation.

Contributions to this report were made by Jill Colvin in New York and Kevin Freking.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Steve Scalise Withdraws House Speaker Bid

What led to Steve Scalise’s decision to withdraw his candidacy for House Speaker?

Steve Scalise withdrew his candidacy due to his failure to secure the necessary votes from his GOP colleagues. Despite private meetings and negotiations, it was evident that a faction within the Republican majority refused to back him, thus leaving the party without a clear path to elect a new Speaker.

Who is Steve Scalise’s main competitor for the House Speaker role?

Rep. Jim Jordan was Scalise’s main competitor for the role of House Speaker. Jordan is the Chair of the Judiciary Committee and had received prior support from Donald Trump. However, Jordan had already indicated that he would no longer seek the Speaker’s role before Scalise’s withdrawal.

What are the immediate implications of this withdrawal for the Republican Party?

The withdrawal has deepened the internal chaos within the GOP, leaving the House of Representatives without a Speaker and essentially paralyzed. This has escalated tensions and frustrations within the party, hindering legislative action on multiple fronts, including potential government funding and foreign policy resolutions.

What is the political climate in the House following Scalise’s withdrawal?

The House has entered its second week without a Speaker, thereby making it virtually non-functional. Political pressure is increasing on the Republicans to resolve the leadership vacuum and regain control over the legislative agenda, especially with urgent matters like government funding and foreign policy at stake.

Was former President Donald Trump involved in the Speaker’s race?

Donald Trump had previously supported Jim Jordan for the role. He later discussed Scalise’s health issues, particularly his battle with multiple myeloma, during a radio interview. However, according to sources, Trump was expected to take a hands-off approach once Scalise became the nominee instead of Jordan.

What are the key legislative issues that are being affected by this leadership vacuum?

The delay in electing a new Speaker has significant implications for a range of legislative issues, including the risk of a government shutdown and the need for a strong bipartisan resolution supporting Israel in its conflict with Hamas. Furthermore, the White House is expected to request funding for Israel, Ukraine, and the replenishment of the U.S. weapons stockpile, all of which require Congressional action.

Who will remain as Majority Leader following Scalise’s withdrawal?

Following Scalise’s withdrawal, Kevin McCarthy stated that Scalise would continue to serve as the Majority Leader of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives.

What was the vote count in the private GOP vote for Scalise?

In the private GOP vote, Scalise garnered 113 votes in favor and 99 against. Despite this, he fell short of the 217 votes needed to secure a majority in a potential floor battle with Democrats.

More about Steve Scalise Withdraws House Speaker Bid

  • Steve Scalise Withdraws From Speaker’s Race: Key Developments
  • Jim Jordan: A Look at Scalise’s Main Rival for House Speaker
  • Republican Party: Internal Divisions and Future Challenges
  • Kevin McCarthy: Role and Statements Post Scalise’s Withdrawal
  • U.S. Government Shutdown: What’s At Stake?
  • Israel-Hamas Conflict: Implications for U.S. Foreign Policy
  • House Majority and Minority Leaders: Current Leadership
  • Donald Trump’s Involvement in GOP Speaker’s Race
  • The Role of the Speaker of the House: A Comprehensive Guide
  • Multiple Myeloma: Understanding Scalise’s Health Condition

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Emily H October 13, 2023 - 3:48 am

Scalise was the Majority Leader, thought he’d have enough sway. Guess I was wrong. Who knows what’ll happen next. It’s anybody’s game at this point.

Anna Williams October 13, 2023 - 4:40 am

Isn’t this the second week with no Speaker? how can the house function like this? They need to sort this out ASAP.

Sarah J October 13, 2023 - 6:50 am

Couldn’t believe it when Scalise dropped out. I mean what’s going on within the Republican party? It’s like they can’t agree on anything. Total chaos.

Jack O'Neill October 13, 2023 - 1:00 pm

Well, i guess this makes room for someone else to step up, but who? Republicans are divided as ever, and time’s ticking. Budget, foreign policy, you name it, it’s all hangin in the balance.

Mike Thompson October 13, 2023 - 7:07 pm

Wow, what a mess in the GOP! Scalise pulling out just adds more fuel to the fire. They really need to get their act together, specially with all the big issues on the table right now.

Tony R October 13, 2023 - 11:49 pm

Scalise, Jordan, McCarthy… they’re all just names at this point. What we need is a leader, not another politician too caught up in personal agendas.

GeorgeM October 14, 2023 - 12:48 am

So Trump backs Jordan and then says Scalise is too sick for the job. Typical. Let’s just throw more confusion into the mix, why dont we.


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