Consensus remains elusive as Republicans try to elect a House speaker

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House Majority leader Steve Scalise spoke to the media on Tuesday. He is in a race with Rep. Jim Jordan for the Speakership.

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Speaking to the media on Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, along with Rep. Jim Jordan, is in a race for the Speakership.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

A week after Kevin McCarthy was ousted in an unprecedented manner, Republicans will begin the process to choose his successor as Speaker of the House this Wednesday. The conference is expected to meet behind closed door and cast a first vote on a nominee. Republicans are determined to avoid a marathon of public voting, like the 15 rounds that McCarthy had to go through to win the gavel back in January. Instead, they will reach a private consensus. Both Majority Leader Steve Scalise, and Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, are vying to be the next House speaker. However, heading into the meeting on Wednesday, neither had the support needed to gain a majority.

Whoever is elected House Speaker will be faced with a new Middle East war and another impending deadline for government funding. They will also have to work with a razor thin majority in order to pass major legislation. While the dual crises might add urgency, Republicans are not optimistic that the process will be completed quickly. “I don’t think we’ll have a speaker by the end this week,” said Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) after a candidate forum at a conference. “If you were to ask me a couple of days ago, pre-Israel being horrifically attacked by Hamas, I would have told you that it would have been a month before we had a speaker.”

Rep. Thomas Massie, a reporter at the Washington Post, told reporters that he thought there was a 2% chance of Republicans electing their speaker on Wednesday. He said that some people may be “set in their ways” about their favorite candidates. Massie says that the conference could be in a deadlock again, but this election is different from McCarthy’s campaign of January. “January was an incredibly difficult coronation,” Massie said. This is a genuine speaker race. “

Plan to stop a shutdown

Massie, a Jordan supporter, said he asked both candidates Tuesday about their plan to avoid a government shutdown when funding expires Nov. 17. Massie backed Jordan’s plan during the debt ceiling talks: a long term continuing resolution that would cut spending by 1% across the board. It will take effect in April. Massie claimed that this would “take the shutdown off the table”, and encourage the Senate to take action on the twelve year-long spending bills. Massie stated that “we are voting for two things simultaneously: we’re voting both for a Speaker and a Plan for the Next 75 Days.” It’s unfair to elect a Speaker and then hinder them with their plan, if they have one. “

Cammack said that Scalise also voiced support for a CR during the candidate forum, and noted that opposition to a continuing resolution is what put Republicans in this position in the first place: The conference was unable to pass one with only Republican votes, and when McCarthy worked with Democrats to stave off a shutdown Rep. Matt Gaetz filed a motion vacating his chair. “

Cammack said that Scalise also voiced support for a CR during the candidate forum, and noted that opposition to a continuing resolution is what put Republicans in this position in the first place: The conference was unable to pass one with only Republican votes, and when McCarthy worked with Democrats to stave off a shutdown, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., filed a motion to vacate the chair.

Cammack said the plan Jordan outlined could lose 90 to 100 Republican votes.

“And without a motion to vacate change, you’d be right back in this position,” she added.

Some Republicans want a rule change

Several members, including Reps. Chip Roy, Marcus Molinaro and Brian Fitzpatrick, have proposed temporarily raising the threshold to choose a Republican nominee to 217 votes — the number that would ensure passage on the full House floor — rather than the current standard of a majority of the majority. Some Republicans want a rule change

Several members, including Reps. Chip Roy, Marcus Molinaro and Brian Fitzpatrick, have proposed temporarily raising the threshold to choose a Republican nominee to 217 votes — the number that would ensure passage on full House floor — rather than current standard of a majority of the majority.

Cammack stated that voting on the change would be “the first order of business.” “

People don’t feel comfortable having C-SPAN or the rest of world watching us fight with a simple majority,” she said. “We would like to fight this family battle behind closed doors, where we could actually find someone to answer the hard questions. We will all go together to the floor. “

Other Members were less Certain that a formal change in vote was needed; Rep. Juan Ciscomani stated that the conference could move forward based on this agreement, rather than an “established Rule.”

Rep. Tom Cole, chair of the Rules Committee called the change “well-intentioned”, but “misdirected.” “You are giving a small number of people the power to veto.” “That’s how we got into this mess,” he said. “Let’s go back to traditional ways of doing things. Have an election. We are doing it. You would literally have two, three or four people deciding on when you were to take the floor. “

A crisis in Israel and Gaza

Addressing the ongoing violence in Israel and Gaza will be one of the most pressing issues facing the new speaker. Hamas militants carried out brutal attacks on Israel last weekend that killed more than 1,200, including 14 Americans. Israel responded by imposing a heavy siege on the Gaza Strip and bombing it heavily, which Palestinian officials claim has killed over 1,000 people. Biden stated that he would ask Congress to act urgently to fund national security needs of our key partners when Congress returns. But there cannot be a vote on the aid to Israel before there is a new Speaker. Mike McCaul, Republican House Foreign Affairs chairman, suggested that the chamber might move a package of aid for Israel and Ukraine as well as Taiwan.

Rep. Kelly Armstrong, a Republican Conference member, slammed that idea on Tuesday. She told reporters that linking Israeli aid with Ukraine funding would create a “huge issue” in the Republican Conference. “

I support the United States’ role in Ukraine, as long as we know the metrics, that there is an accounting, and we have a clear vision,” Armstrong said. “We need to have an adult discussion about how we want this situation to develop. If you want to jam it with Israeli cash, even though there is unanimity on this, then that’s a big mistake. “

Darkhorse candidate?

Rep. Ken Buck, who was one of eight Republicans to vote with Democrats in order to remove McCarthy, stated that he “was not thrilled” by either candidate following the forum on Tuesday evening. The Colorado Republican stated that he wanted to know more about the spending levels, and other pressing matters. Buck stated, “I think it’s very likely that we’ll go with someone who is not currently in the running.” “Neither of them wanted anyone to be offended today, so all their responses were vague. “

Cammack is a close friend of McCarthy and has also left open the possibility that a new candidate could emerge if Scalise or Jordan are unable to reach an agreement.

Cammack has said that she is not sure who she will back, but she believes neither Scalise nor Jordan have enough votes to cross the finish line. “I know there is a possible way to get us to 218

. “I’m hoping that it will be with one of these gentlemen,” said she. “But, if we can’t get the conference to happen for whatever reason, then we owe the American people. We owe our constituents the duty to return to the drawing table and find someone who can. “